Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide

Choosing a New Doctor

Mrs. Wiley had a big surprise the other day when she called her doctor's office to make an appointment. The receptionist told her that Dr. Horowitz was retiring at the end of the year. After all this time – after the doctor had treated her for strep throat, bladder infections, and that nasty broken wrist; after helping her through menopause – she felt like she was losing a trusted friend. Mrs. Wiley worried that she wouldn't be able to find a new doctor she would like.

There are many reasons why you might be looking for a new doctor. You may have moved to another city, or your doctor could be retiring. Whatever the reason, the following ideas can help you find a doctor who is right for you.

What Type of Doctor?

For your primary care doctor, you might want a general or family practitioner, an internist, or a geriatrician.

Finding a New Doctor

Once you have a sense of what kind of doctor you need, ask people you know about doctors they use and like. Friends, coworkers, and other health professionals may be helpful. You can make it easier for them to tell you about the doctors they like by asking questions such as, "What do you like about your doctor?"

A doctor whose name comes up often might be a good one to try. It may help to have several names to choose from in case the doctor you select is not taking new patients or does not take part in your health insurance plan. If you need more help finding names of doctors, contact a local hospital or medical center, medical society, physician referral service, or nearby medical schools.

If you belong to a managed care plan, you can get a list of doctors from the plan's membership services office. Your choices will be limited to the doctors who are part of the plan.

When Your Doctor Stops Seeing Patients

Often when a doctor leaves a medical practice, he or she can arrange for you to see another doctor who will have access to all your medical records. You should go for an office visit with the new doctor before deciding if you want him or her to be your physician.

What Should You Look for in a Doctor?

Of course you want a doctor who is well trained and capable. But, in addition, a doctor who takes the time to know you well may be able to help you prevent some health problems and manage problems that do come up. Once you have chosen two or three doctors, call their offices. The office staff can give you information about the doctor's education and training. You can say, "Before I make an appointment, I have some questions about the office and the practice. Can I speak to an office manager or a nurse?" They can tell you about office policies, standard insurance the office takes, whether or not they file the insurance claims for you, payment methods, and the hospitals where the doctor sends patients. When choosing a new doctor you may want to know about:

How Do You Make a Good Choice?

Find out as much as you can about the doctor and the practice. Here are more questions you may want to ask the office staff:

The First Appointment

After choosing a doctor, make your first medical appointment. Before going to the doctor's office, write down any questions you may have. It's a good idea to bring a list of your medicines. Include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, even vitamins, supplements, and eye drops. The nurse is often the first person you'll talk to in the office. The nurse usually takes your blood pressure and asks about your medications. If you're having a problem with a medicine, the nurse will explain how to take it.

During your first visit, the doctor will probably take a medical history and ask questions about your health and the medical history of people in your family. The doctor will examine you. If you go to a new doctor, be sure to bring your past medical records or have them sent. Your former doctor may charge you for this service. Make a list of any drug allergies or serious drug reactions you've had. During this visit, take time to ask any questions you may still have about the doctor and the practice.

For instance, ask the doctor:

After the meeting, ask yourself if you felt comfortable and confident with this doctor. Were you at ease asking questions? Did the doctor clearly answer your questions? If you are not sure, schedule a visit with one of the other doctors on your list.

Once you have found a doctor you like, your job is not finished. A good doctor-patient relationship is a partnership. Both you and your doctor need to work together to solve your medical problems and maintain your good health. Finding a doctor that suits your needs is an important first step. Good communication with the doctor and the office staff is key.

Home    Featured Programs    Choose Local Area     Request Information
A JR Media Publication • www.jrmediallc.comSite Index