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Take the Time to Choose the Right Doctor-- It Could Be a Life Saver

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After going through a negative experience recently when I was selecting a doctor for myself, I decided to reach out to some family members who are doctors in several fields and have been practicing for years. I also spoke to some friends who have been going through medical problems to find out how they chose a doctor for themselves. I also searched on the Internet on how to select the right doctor for myself. After all the research I did I came up with several pointers that could help me in finding the right doctors; right now I need to find an eye doctor, family physician, dentist and an endocrinologist. But even after all this work, who knows? I could end up having a not-so-great doctor. I mean, I am not too selective about a lot of things, but this is my life that I am putting in someone else's care.

My criteria for finding the right doctor is based on the experiences I went through with different doctors so far. Basically, I'm looking for:
1. A doctor who has enough time for me to discuss my health issues.
2. A doctor who is compassionate and understands my medical needs.
3. A doctor who actually looks at me as a person rather than just a medical record.
4. A doctor who exudes confidence in his or her field.
5. A doctor who actually listens to me.
6. A doctor whose office environment is pleasant when I enter.
7. A doctor who is available when I need to reach him or her, or at least have a doctor on call who is available.
8. A doctor who follows up with my medical history when I go back for a second visit.
9. A doctor who has the right credentials to treat me.
10. A doctor who could visit me in the hospital if necessary, which would let me know that he or she is considerate and able to answer my inquiries about my situation at that time.
11. A doctor who makes me feel comfortable in discussing a problem.
12. A doctor who is not rude or unpleasant or thinks of me as an unintelligent person.

The above-mentioned criteria is just for myself. I understand that others might have different set of expectations from their doctors. So here are the general pointers that I picked up from different sources including the Internet :

When selecting a doctor one should look for:
1. The doctor's academic history including where he or she graduated from, how many years he or she has spent on his or her specialty, and the number of years spent on the sub-specialty.
2. Board certifications, including American Medical Association certifications, university graduation, specialty licenses, licenses to practice, etc.
3. Continuing Medical Education certifications, which can assure the patient that he or she is keeping up with the knowledge in his or her specific field by attending different seminars and educational needs to practice.
4. The hospitals the doctor is affiliated with, including the number of years spent with each hospital. The reputation of the specific hospital, and his or her reputation in the particular hospital.
5. How many hours his or her office is open during the day. What times they close for lunch. If necessary, would a person be able to reach the answering service and be assured they will be contacted.
6. A back-up physician if the doctor is on vacation or in surgery or at an emergency situation. This is vital since most of the physicians are not available during weekends or nights.
7. The waiting period in the doctor's office when the patient goes for an appointment. Recently, I had to wait almost two hours before I was seen in the examination room.
8. The number of patients the doctor sees per day. This could enable people to figure out the time frame of their own schedule at the doctor's office to plan ahead.
9. The chosen specialty of the particular doctor.
10. The general feeling communicating with personnel and the doctor on the first time visit.
11. Insurance coverage is important to know ahead of time. One time I made an appointment about a month ahead with a doctor, and was told at the time that the office took HMOs. After I arrived on the appointment day and waited for 40 minutes, I was finally told that the doctor stopped taking HMO patients and won't be able to see me.
12. The location of the doctor's practice is important in determining your travel time and also how busy the doctor could be.
13. Personal and professional recommendations regarding that particular doctor could help you determine if he or she is a right doctor for you. These recommendations could come from family members, friends, associates at work, your primary physician, etc.

These are some of the pointers I gathered through my search. I hope what I learned will help me find the right doctors for myself this time. Choosing the right doctor and being able to trust them with our lives and health is extremely important in maintaining our health and happiness because, OUR LIFE MATTERS.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.