How do I select a primary care doctor?

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If you don’t have a primary care physician (PCP), just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions. Having a PCP who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

Dr. Ryan G. Aronin, MD
Internist

Before officially selecting a primary care provider (PCP), you should meet with the healthcare provider and see if you both feel comfortable together.

Dr. Susan S. Blum, MD
Preventive Medicine Specialist

First, get a recommendation from a friend you trust, and make sure this doctor is in your insurance plan. While it is common to go outside insurance for specialists, your primary care doctor should be in your plan.

Second, choose a hospital that you would want to go to if you get sick, and find a doctor that is on staff there.

Lastly, you should interview the doctor once before you become a patient. Make sure you are comfortable with them because many studies show a healing relationship is critical for a good outcome during any kind of medical treatment. If you are also seeing other integrative doctors, make sure your primary care doctor is comfortable and interested to know what else you are doing.

Dr. John J. Connolly
Healthcare Insurance & Policy Specialist

Choosing a primary care provider follows the same guidance as finding any provider: Training and certification are primary. However, in choosing a primary care provider, the chemistry between doctor and patient is also important. Since the relationship will be on a regular basis and long-term, a strong degree of mutual trust and respect is very important. It is also important to know the physician is on the medical staff of a good hospital. If you are ever admitted to the hospital, it will very likely be the one where your physician is on the medical staff.

When selecting a primary care physician (PCP), you should evaluate many factors, including the doctor’s credentials and history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions; www.Healthgrades.com is a good resource to consult for that information. Let your assessment include the doctor’s practice (What are the office hours? What are the doctor and staff’s preferred method(s) of communication? Is the staff friendly and helpful?).

The doctor’s personality is very important—people want to feel valued and cared about. However, you may not be able to get a true sense of a physician’s bedside manner based on one interaction. If he or she seems to be having a bad or busy day, give the doctor the benefit of the doubt and base your opinion on a couple visits. Trust your instincts. Go with your gut feeling. If you think a doctor seems to have the right combination of compassion and expertise to care for you, you’re probably right.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

Dr. Matthew M. Schellenberg, DO
Family Practitioner

When choosing a primary care doctor there are a few things you should consider. First, make sure that the primary care doctor is comfortable treating you. Some primary care doctors treat just about everyone, but some might not feel comfortable treating geriatrics or pediatrics. Some might not feel comfortable treating pregnant women or athletes. It's important to make sure your primary care doctor is comfortable seeing you and that he or she is familiar with the problems you might encounter.

Your doctor should also put you first, knowing that if you have a special need that some other specialist can provide better than your doctor, he or she will find that specialist and refer you to him or her to get the best care that you can get.

It’s also important for your primary care doctor to have a good relationship with a hospital because you require so much from hospitals. That's primarily where testing is done, surgeries are performed and specialists can be located. Having that relationship with a hospital allows the doctor access to all the specialists, the surgeries, the testing and all their resources. To have the hospital as a resource is an absolute requirement to have a good practice.

In the ideal patient-doctor relationship, you feel that the doctor you go to is competent, a friend and, most importantly, has your health as his or her top priority and concern. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.