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Five tips for choosing your first doctor

It's a question most people will encounter at some point: How do I choose a doctor?

Ask a friend? Choose the clinic closest to my house? Google indiscriminately and hope for the best? It's not an easy question to answer, especially for young, healthy people who are looking for a primary physician for the first time. It is, however, a critical decision in determining your health care.

It's important to take time and do research, as choosing a good physician will help you feel more confident in your care. It could also help you avoid complications later. Below are a few suggestions to help make your decision easier.

  1. Check your insurance. The first step is administrative. You'll want to choose a physician that is in your insurance network. Check with your insurance provider to get a list of potential physicians and clinics.
  2. Ask for referrals. If you know anyone in the medical field, ask them for suggestions. You can also check with family, friends and coworkers.
  3. What are your healthcare needs? Do you have any specific health concerns? Do you need ongoing care for a current condition? Are you looking for a physician for you and a spouse or children? You can't make a decision about a doctor until you know what you are looking for.
  4. Check credentials. Find out if potential physicians are board certified and or any other credentials they may have. You'll also want to check their background and find out if they have any disciplinary issues on their record.
  5. Meet the doctor in person. You'll want to determine compatibility with your doctor, so use your first visit to find out if he or she is the right fit. Ultimately, you want to be comfortable and confident in your treatment, even if you are just going in for a routine checkup.

The best way to choose a doctor is to trust your instincts and determine what is best for you. It may not always seem like it, but your primary physician plays an important role in your life. Taking the time to choose the right doctor in the beginning is one of the best ways to avoid complications later.

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