Looking for a new physician can seem daunting, especially if you have just moved, if your doctor is retiring, if you need to see a specialist. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has looked into the process people engage in to find their doctor. Half of all those people who are looking for a new primary care physician use word of mouth recommendations from their family and friends in making that choice.
Pew Interest found that 16 % of Internet users (around 12% of adults) consulted online reviews or rankings of doctors.
How to find the best doctor
One of the best resources for finding out how to find the best doctor for you is an NCI website. Although it is specifically directed at those with a cancer diagnosis, it provides some extremely important links. Here are some of those links and the rationale for using them.
To become a family physician, after college you need to complete medical school (4 years) and a residency which is usually 3 years. Other primary care physicians, like internal medicine specialists, have longer residencies. After going through these and being licensed a physician can become Board Certified in their specialty. This requires that they take examinations on their level of knowledge in their area of specialization and is another way to assure that your physician is the best doctor for you. Is Your Doctor Board Certified is a website that lists physicians, their education and specialty.
Another resource is the American Medical Associations’ Doctor Finder which provides information about licensed physicians in your area.
If you are looking for surgeons, you can find out about them through the American College of Surgeons and if you are interested in finding an oncologist the American Society of Clinical Oncology is available online.
Although our friends and family’s experiences and opinions are important, it is also important to feel you are getting the best care. Other considerations include
1) Does the physician accept your insurance plan?
2) Does she have practice privileges at the hospital of your choice?
3) Can you talk to, and ask questions of your doctor?
4) Does your physician treat you with respect?
Getting a Second Opinion
Perhaps you have gotten a diagnosis and recommendation from one doctor and you would like to get a second opinion. There are some insurers that encourage or require second opinions for surgeries and other treatments. Physicians may also encourage second opinions.
How to proceed
Bring support with you to the appointment where you are going to discuss getting a second opinion from your physician. Having someone else there to help you discuss this next step is extremely helpful.
Let your physician know that you want to get a second opinion. It is easier to let your physician know that you are getting a second opinion as that makes getting records and other tests simpler.
Ask your physician who they recommend you go to for the second opinion. You may decide to choose someone else but you may find that your choice is also your physician’s choice.