If you are looking for a primary care doctor, there are some key things to consider. While some physicians do have an online presence with patient reviews and other information, choosing a new doctor is much different than deciding on where to go for dinner.
Rand Nashi, MD, (pictured at right) an internal medicine physician with Emerson Health Primary Care in Bedford, gives excellent advice on how to choose a primary care provider or other physician. Her first suggestion? Ask around.
“The option I recommend most is to talk with your loved ones — your family, your neighbors, your friends — to see if they have personal recommendations. People often have a good relationship with their doctor, one they are proud to share, and this kind of endorsement can be priceless.”
Another option is to use social media. For example, post on your local Facebook town group page asking for recommendations in your area. You can also use your insurance policy’s website to see which providers are in your network.
Yes, You Can Interview Your Prospective Doctor!
With today’s emphasis on providing a personalized healthcare experience, more doctors are open to doing a “meet and greet” with potential patients. Call the doctor’s office and ask if this option is available.
“You get to sit with your potential new doctor and ask them any questions you would like answered. For example, you can ask them about their philosophy of care, how easy it is to make an appointment for a well and a sick visit, what type of training and experience the doctor has, what they enjoy about their work, and anything else that is on your mind,” explains Dr. Nashi.
Meeting with a potential provider is extremely valuable because everyone has individual concerns about their health and well-being, and it is helpful to get to know a doctor before you “hire” them to take care of you.
In many cases, it comes down to the connection a patient feels when they meet with the doctor. Are they attentive, thoughtful, patient, and polite? Do they seem invested in your concerns and want to find solutions?
“People can usually tell pretty quickly if they are comfortable or not. You want to find someone you can trust because you will be trusting this person with your health. There are signs that it is a good fit, such as if the physician is a good listener. There are also signs it might not be a good fit, such as a physician who is impatient or dismissive while you are talking. These can be red flags,” cautions Dr. Nashi.
It is important to know a provider’s availability. Will it take months to get in to see them for a routine appointment? What about getting a same-day appointment if you are sick or injured? Are there trained staff who can answer questions if the provider is not available?
Building a Good Relationship with Your Doctor
Ideally, the relationship you form with your primary care doctor will be long term. Frequently changing doctors can be stressful for you and it can interrupt your medical care. It is best to have a trusted, experienced medical professional on your team who understands your health history and has the expertise and connections to refer you to specialists should the need arise.
“People see their doctor when they are vulnerable — when they are sick, injured, or worried about a medical concern. They put their faith in their doctor to guide them through their challenges,” shares Dr. Nashi. “I have learned so much from my patients. I truly enjoy taking care of them and helping them live active, healthy lives.”
8 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Primary Care Doctor
Here is a handy list of questions you can use when you meet with a primary care doctor to see if they are a good fit for you.
- What are your qualifications, where were you trained and what type of experience do you have?
- How do you communicate with patients?
- What do you enjoy most about being a primary care doctor?
- Do you have special areas of interest? If so, what are they?
- Can you describe a good patient/doctor relationship?
- What if I am sick or injured and need medical care quickly?
- What if I need a specialist, like a gastroenterologist or an orthopedic surgeon? Do you have relationships with doctors in the community?
- What is it like working with your office? If I leave a message will it be returned quickly? What if I need to refill a prescription?
To search for a primary care physician near you, visit emersonhospital.org/find-a-doctor.
Listen to Dr. Nashi discuss her tips for choosing a primary care physician in this Health Works Here podcast.
Rand Nashi, MD, is a primary care physician with Emerson Health Primary Care Bedford. She attended UMass Chan Medical School and completed her residency in internal medicine at Boston Medical Center. She has special interest in women’s health, autoimmune diseases, and health disparities. Dr. Nashi is seeing new patients. Please call the office at 339-215-5100 to learn more and to make an appointment to get to know her.