How to Choose a Doctor

When it comes to choosing a doctor, it’s important find a physician whose education, training, location and medical interests match your health needs. What type of doctor do you need?

If you have an HMO plan, you must first choose a primary care physician who will refer you for specialty care as needed. Family practitioners, internists, and pediatricians are all considered primary care physicians.

If you have a special health concern, consider looking for a physician with in-depth training in that area. Some physicians have additional expertise in women’s health issues, heart disease, sports medicine or other specialty areas.

What factors are most important when choosing a doctor?

The most important factor in selecting a physician is his or her background — clinical training, experience, board certification plus interests and expertise in specialized areas — depending on the care you need. The age and gender of your physician may also be important to you.

Do you want a large group practice or a small office?

Choose the setting where you feel most comfortable, whether it is a large medical practice that offers a variety of doctors, a smaller practice or a solo practitioner’s office. Larger offices may present more options should your doctor be unavailable when needed. Smaller offices may provide more personal attention, but not always.

Where is the office located?

The location and office hours should be convenient and accessible, perhaps near home or work. If you need hospital care, where will you go?

Make sure your physician can care for you at the hospital of your choice, and that he or she would be willing to admit you to that hospital if necessary. Your options are also determined, in part, by your health insurance plan.