Many people like to make health goals for the New Year, but it’s also a perfect time to schedule checkups and screenings. If you don’t already have a primary care physician, make a resolution to locate one and schedule an appointment. Rob Fields, MD, Medical Director of Mission Health Partners, offers the following advice for finding the best doctor for you:
- Consider your schedule and lifestyle. If you work full time, it may be important to you to find a provider who is located near your workplace or who has after-hours or Saturday-morning access. Another feature you might want to consider if you have a busy schedule is a patient portal that will allow you to schedule appointments and request refills online.
- Look for chemistry. A doctor might have all of the qualifications you’re looking for, but if there isn’t a good connection between the two of you, he or she might not be the right doctor for you. A relationship with a primary care physician is usually one that’s long-term. There should be trust and open communication in every interaction.
- Make sure the doctor doesn’t discourage your participation. We live in the information age, and many patients like to do their homework before visiting their physician. In a good primary care relationship, a doctor should welcome your questions and research, and help you navigate your way through them. Your doctor may sometimes disagree with the information you’ve presented, but he or she should be able to offer you reasons why, as well as guidance on better options.
- Don’t forget the office staff. When you choose a primary care provider, it’s not just the doctor you’ll deal with. If your doctor’s office has discourteous or unprofessional staff at the front desk, on the phone or anywhere else you might interact with them, it could spell trouble. These are people you will need to rely on to answer questions, call in refills, schedule your appointments and arrange your lab work. It’s important that they not be a barrier to quality healthcare for you.
Rob Fields, MD, is Medical Director of Mission Health Partners.