wikiHow to Find the Right Doctor

Finding the right doctor may seem easy, but finding the right doctor is actually a process that takes time and careful research. By using this how-to article, you can take the right steps towards finding the right doctor for you.


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    Ask for references. Talk to family members, friends, or co-workers and ask if they have any recommendations. Call any local hospitals and medical schools and ask for referrals. Ask the hospital staff the name of the doctor they go to for medical care. If you're looking for a pediatrician, you can easily call their school and ask what their references are as to doctors or medical facilities.
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    Call around several different places and speak to their doctors. Don't just stop at the very first doctor you find, look around and consider your choices before picking- Please understand that you most likely will NOT be able to speak with a prospective doctor, whom you have never seen. There are websites dedicated to rating doctors based on reviews from actual patients, you can also search your doctor of interest on Google and see what pops up!
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    If your doctor refers you to a particular specialist, make sure you still check them out. Some doctors may refer you to their buddies and business partners. Don't assume they're referring you to the best doctor or someone still in your insurance network. Again, this is a situation where you will want to contact your insurance company to make sure that the specialist is in-network for your plan. Although some doctors will refer you to their friends for specialty care, they are obligated to refer you to a capable specialist- this ensures good continuity of care. Your primary care physician (PCP) is responsible for coordinating all of your care to make sure you are receiving the best medical treatment for your condition/s.
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    Ask the doctors about credentials. Make sure the doctor has credentials and is properly licensed. You can do a license background check by calling your state's medical licensing board and asking for a background check on the doctor.
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    Discuss with the doctors about insurance plans. Talk to them about medical coverage and if they're covered under your insurance. Be specific and ask if it covers visits, medications, procedures, etc. (many physicians do not know exactly what your insurance covers-There are too many variables, for example, co-insurance, deductibles, etc. The best bet in this situation is to contact Member Services for your health plan- This toll-free phone number can be found on your Insurance ID card, most often on the back of the card. Call them to double check what your costs will be for certain procedures or tests).
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    Check into the hospitals and medical facilities. Make sure to check into a hospital's or medical facility's reputation and quality.
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    If you're looking into a surgeon, look into how many times the surgeon has performed the procedure and their success rate.
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    Look for a board-certified doctor. This shows that the doctor has had success in exams and higher training.
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    Look for good bed-side manner. You don't want a doctor who will walk into the office and say, "Hello, how are you? I just wanted to let you know that you have a huge growth on your foot. Well, good luck with that and see you during the next visit" and then walk away without discussing more about it with you. You need to look for a doctor who is patient, who will sit with you and thoroughly explain your condition and possible treatments, and who will listen will to your concerns. Important: If you are lucky enough to find the ideal doctor for you, who takes their time and listens to your concerns, realize that this doctor also has the same mannerisms with all of his/her patients. If you have to wait an extra 20-30 minutes to see your doctor beyond your scheduled appointment time, understand that the delay is due to patients who are being properly taken care of, who were scheduled before your time slot. You are likely to receive the same time, attention and care when it is your turn to see the doctor.
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    Look into after-care hours, after hours contact information and emergency treatment protocols. Make sure you can get the proper care you need in case of an emergency.
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    Check and see if your doctor's approach to healing is consistent with your own views and philosophies. For example, beyond traditional Western medicine (sometimes referred to as allopathic medicine), some doctors practice 'holistic medicine', (caring for whole person) which considers personal and social as well as organic factors in forming a diagnosis and treatment plan. Others physicians practice 'Integrative Medicine,' which combines traditional, Western medicine with proven alternative therapies (such as acupuncture). And 'functional medicine' is rapidly becoming popular. Functional medicine aims to find and treat the underlying causes of chronic conditions, not just one specific symptom.


  • In the case of a complicated medical condition, always get a second opinion, especially if surgery is a possibility.
  • Always choose a physician who listens to you and takes your health concerns seriously; Be wary of an overly dismissive doctor.
  • Look for a back-up doctor in case your regular isn't available, However; if you have an HMO plan, you are required to choose and use one specific physician for your primary care. Another option is a "Minute Clinic" which can be found in most CVS pharmacies. There are also other clinics you can use for Urgent Care, again, ask your insurance company. Your visit should be covered by your insurance plan without the need to change your PCP. These Urgent care facilities are best for non-emergency problems that may arise, such as a sore throat, a possible Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), or a simple vaccination.
  • Today's physicians are often over-booked and over-worked. They may not have time to speak to you if you request a "private" call-back, instead of scheduling an appointment where the doctor can address your concerns in person. (ie: test results, a new problem, a request for antibiotics, etc.) If, for example, you need a form filled out, it is best to schedule an appointment with your doctor to facilitate the completion of the form. Physician's are not compensated for the time it takes to fill out a form for you, unless it's done during an appointment. Also with the stack of forms they already have to fill out, it may take quite some time to get your form completed in a timely manner unless you make an appointment with your doctor.
  • If there is an emergency, call emergency services or go immediately to the nearest hospital. You can ask a passer-by for a cell phone to call for help, but never leave a potential life-threatening situation or condition to some stranger on the streets, even if they claim to be a doctor.


  • Trust your medical care in the hands of someone you know for certain is a certified doctor or nurse.
  • Search your doctor's name+specialty+city and take the time to read any online reviews you can find on them to ensure other patients are getting satisfactory care.
  • If there is an emergency, call 911 or go immediately to a hospital.
  • Remember, sometimes doctors call their mistakes experience and practice; It is possible they cannot get any closer to a real solution to your problem.

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Categories: Finding a Medical Specialist