Tips for Choosing a Primary Care Physician

Choosing a primary care physician can be overwhelming. Where do you start? Which doctor is right for you? Developing and maintaining a strong relationship with your physician is so important to your overall health that going through this process is well worth the effort. Here are a few tips to help in your search …

Finding Your Fit
  • Know Your Focus  Primary care physicians focus on different areas, and each has its benefits. A basic summary might help narrow your search:
    • Family Medicine (with or without Obstetrics) focuses on health care for individuals and families of all ages, including infants. They frequently care for patients with multiple ongoing health conditions. They provide preventive care, age-related screenings and health guidance. Family Medicine physicians also provide ongoing screenings, immunizations and preventive care throughout childhood. Some Family Medicine physicians also include Obstetrics (the care of women during pregnancy and childbirth).
    • Internal Medicine focuses on adult patients and the aging process. Internists generally see patients over 18 years old. They also frequently care for patients with multiple ongoing health conditions. They provide preventive care, age-related screenings and health guidance.
    • Pediatrics is a specialty which treats children from birth to their late teens. While pediatricians see healthy children for primary care, they also help children who have special or difficult health conditions. Pediatricians provide ongoing screenings, immunizations and preventive care throughout childhood.
  • Establish Priorities  Decide what's most important to you. Do you want details or do you prefer a simple recommendation? Do you care if your doctor is a man or a woman? More experienced or on the cutting edge of new treatments and technologies? Always on time or always willing to take as much time as necessary?
  • Get Recommendations  Talk to your family and friends to find out who they would recommend. If they love their doctor, find out why.
  • Make an introductory appointment  Many physicians will offer an initial ‘get to know you' appointment to meet the doctor, learn about the team he or she may work with (nurses and advanced practitioners) and ask questions you might have about the way they practice. It's a good way to see if personalities mesh and priorities are met.
Ready to make an appointment? Search for a primary care physician in our online provider directory.