Choosing a new doctor can be very difficult. There are a lot of factors to consider, and one size certainly does not fit all.
Obviously, your insurance plan is a big factor in the doctor you choose, but even when you narrow your list down to those who accept your insurance, you’ll likely still have quite a few to choose from. Asking family and friends for their recommendations is a great idea, but even then, you’ll want to make sure the doctor is right for you.
One great way to ensure you’re making the right choice is to schedule an interview with your doctor. Many doctors will sit down with a prospective patient in order to become acquainted, and answer any questions you may have.
While some people may find this process intimidating, it’s worth it to get past your fears on this one, and make the interview appointment.
Here are seven reasons why:
To determine their area of specialization
While the general specialty of a doctor will often be listed online, some clinic websites have way more information than others, and some doctors have more than one specialty. The way to truly get to know the ins and outs of what a doctor specializes in — and what they don’t — is to sit down with them and ask.
This can be especially important if you have a specific health condition, or a family history of a health condition. Choosing a doctor that has training and experience in this condition can be key to getting you the best care possible.
To get a feel for the office
When going to interview a doctor, you will also be getting an idea of what the entire clinic or office is like. Is it clean? Does the staff seem unusually stressed? Does the doctor take the time to answer your questions, or rush through them?
Another important point is to ask how soon an appointment can be scheduled should an urgent (but not emergency) issue come up. Also, you could ask how soon a nurse or doctor can call you back if you have a question.
If the doctor gets put off by these questions, or does not give you an answer you are okay with, it may be best to keep looking.
To find out which hospitals they use, and where you have to go to get tests
During your interview, make sure to find out what hospitals the doctor may send you to should the need arise. Also, it’s important to know if bloodwork and other lab tests will be done right in the office, or if you will have to go to another location. If it’s far away or somehow difficult to get to in the hours you have available, this may become an issue.
To determine their policy on referrals
Before choosing a doctor, it’s helpful to know what sorts of health issues they will treat themselves, and what types of things they will give you a referral for. That way, you’ll be prepared for additional travel to other clinics you may have to visit should the need for a referral arise.
To discuss prevention and treatment viewpoints
All doctors are different. Some put great emphasis on disease prevention, and some focus solely on treatment of current health issues. Ideally, the two go hand in hand.
Having a conversation about prevention and treatment with a potential doctor will allow you to understand their philosophy and policy in these areas. A doctor who believes prevention is important will likely provide more information about nutrition and lifestyle solutions to minimize disease risk.
To learn about their views on natural and alternative remedies
The world is changing, and Western medicine is becoming more and more accepting of certain natural remedies. However, no two doctors are alike, and some flat-out will not consider the merits of natural medicine.
For this reason, if natural medicine is something that you incorporate into your life, you may wish to find a doctor who is accepting and open-minded about it. Many doctors nowadays find ways to weave holistic medicine and Western medicine together for the optimal health of the patient. You just have to find the right one.
To make sure you are comfortable with them
Meeting a potential doctor is important for many reasons, but perhaps most importantly of all is how you feel about them. Are you comfortable talking to them? Are they empathetic to your needs? Do they listen, and take the time to thoroughly explain any questions and concerns that you have?
Your doctor is a person to whom you entrust your health: if they give you a bad feeling, all the credentials in the world won’t help. Trust your gut.
What questions do you ask when meeting a potential doctor for the first time? Which questions have you found to be the most helpful?
Tanya is a writer at The Alternative Daily with a passion for meditation, music, poetry, and overall creative and active living. She has a special interest in exploring traditional Eastern remedies and superfoods from around the globe, and enjoys spending time immersed in nature.