How to Find the Right Primary Care Doctor for You
One of the most intimate and crucial relationships we have is with our primary care physician. There are different primary care physicians for different patient needs and requirements. For example, an internist may not be the ideal selection to be a family's primary care physician compared to a family medicine specialist.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you find the right primary care doctor for you:
The different types of primary care physicans
We all need a good primary care physician. You should think of your primary care physician as your “go to” doctor. Who do you go to when you have a question about your health or need a prescription refill?
There is more than one type of primary care doctor:
- Pediatricians specialize in the treatment of newborns, infants, children and adolescents. Doctors board-certified in pediatrics plan and carry out a medical care program for children – from birth through adolescence. They provide preventive health care as well as care for acute and chronic illness. Learn about Loyola's general pediatric services.
- Physicians board-certified in internal medicine, often called internists, specialize in the study, diagnosis and treatment of non-surgical diseases in adult patients. An internist is trained to diagnose and treat complex illnesses, as well as manage the prevention of illness. Learn about Loyola's internal medicine services.
- Doctors who specialize in internal medicine and pediatrics, sometimes referred to as “med/peds” doctors, have completed a combined residency program in internal medicine and pediatrics. They are able to provide preventive care as well as care for the complex medical problems of adults and children. Learn about Loyola's internal medicine/pediatrics services.
- Family medicine doctors provide continuing comprehensive primary care to patients of all ages and so can care for the entire family. Learn about Loyola's family medicine services.
Checking credentials, accepted insurances and learning more about the physician
After you have some doctors in mind, it is a good idea to check their credentials. Loyola Medicine physicians’ profiles are available on the website and show the doctor’s education, including specialized training, such as in pediatrics, and their board certifications.
While doctors must be licensed in the state in which they practice, they also earn certifications from boards that set standards for medical specialties, such as internal medicine or obstetrics and gynecology.
To maintain board certification, doctors must stay up-to-date on the latest advances in medicine.
Next, make sure the doctor you want to see accepts your insurance. Insurance companies usually have a list of physicians who accept their insurance.
If you are interested in a certain physician, contact his or her office and ask if your insurance is accepted.
Location, affiliation and more to keep in mind
Other things to keep in mind when choosing a physician:
- Office location. Even if you find someone you think is the best physician, do you have the time to drive to the office for appointments?
- Hospital affiliation. Consider whether the doctor is employed by or can admit patients to the hospital you prefer.
- Comfort level. You need to feel completely comfortable with your doctor. If it’s easier for you to talk to a woman, seek a female doctor. Do you want someone younger or someone older? The most important thing is for you to feel comfortable and open with talking to your physician.
- The entire medical team. A medical office is more than just a doctor. Is the office staff helpful? Are the nurses responsive? If you like the doctor, but have problems with the team, talk to your doctor about it.