Getting a family doctor is something that my wife and i have talked about several times but keep pushing it further and further. How it works for us up until last week, we just walk into a family practice closest to us when feeling unwell, one is treated and walks out. This arrangement has worked fairly well for us since we hardly go to see the doctor (we are thankful for good health) and when we do, we just show up with no appointments. Last week however when i went in for an ‘extended cold’ they run so many tests that i started wondering whether they were all necessary and that’s what sparked the thought that we had discussed about a family doctor. We are now actively looking for one that will fit our family needs.
So, who is a family doctor? A no brainer question, but a family doctor takes care of the physical, mental and emotional health of an entire family. He/she knows the family’s health history and how it can affect you. He/She is trained to care for the family through all the stages of family development. Family doctors also create caring relationships with patients and their families. They listen to them and help them make the right health care decisions. According to a healthy me, family doctors should be:
Skilled in communication — listening, understanding, and being able to place the patient’s present situation in the context of their family and environment. Conversely, they also have to be able to talk with the patient in a way the patient understands, taking into account their emotional, cultural, and educational backgrounds.
What to look for?
Because this decision can be hard one to make, one of the best place to begin is by writing down your preferences for a family doctor, then talk to your family and friends and find out who their doctors are- and if they would recommend them. You can also request a referral from your current doctor when moving to a new area. Doctors have a lot of connections and can often recommend someone they know or trust. Once you have the names of a few doctors, call their offices to get more information. Some important things that you should ask when you call the doctor’s office may include:
- Do they accept your insurance?
- What are the office hours?
- What major hospital does the doctor use?
- How many doctors are in the practice?
Also note that –
If you belong to a managed-care plan — such as an HMO or preferred provider — you will probably have to choose from a list of primary care physicians who contract with the insurance plan. (Your choices may be further limited to the doctors who are accepting new patients.)
Once you find a doctor who meets your family medical needs and preferences, schedule an appointment so that you can meet and talk to the doctor. During this meeting, make sure that: You’re comfortable talking to the doctor and ask the doctor all the questions you can think of. Ask if they have ever treated any similar illness (for pre existing condition)
Bottom line- get to know and be comfortable with the doctor that you choose.
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