Consult your health insurance planiStock/LPETTET
No matter how much you value a potential doctor's bedside manner, you’ll most likely want to choose someone who is covered by your health insurance plan. That doesn’t have to be a limitation: Many plans have special designations for doctors who have consistently met standards of quality. Keep those in mind when narrowing your search. (Related: Want to stay courteous throughout the process? These are the patient behaviors doctors find most annoying.)
Refer to online reviews (with caution)iStock/Squaredpixels
Although online reviews have become a major assistant in deciding where to go for dinner, the medical community hasn't quite caught up. Because of this, most professionals advise against choosing a doctor solely based off reviews. That said, they're worth checking out, as long as you take them with a grade of salt. Websites like Healthgrades.com and ZocDoc are two of the first places to look.
Assess their credentialsiStock/NemanjaMiscevic
Check to make sure your doctor is board certified in the area of medicine you're visiting him or her for. Accomplish this quickly by plugging their name into the search bar at the American Board of Medical Specialties.
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Consulting people you know—friends, family, and other medical professionals who take part in your care—what they think of a doctor's service is a great way to get a feel for how trusting other patients feel around him or her. Ask how open they feel talking to the doctor, how receptive he or she is toward questions, and what it's like interacting with other staff members.
Do a get-to-know-you interviewiStock/PeopleImages
The National Institute of Aging recommends scheduling interviews with prospective doctors. The office might charge you for this one-on-one, but it could help you decide if the two of you click. Once you get there, they suggest asking questions to help you figure out if the doctor is a good fit for your concerns. For example: "Can I call or email you or your staff when I have questions?" "Do you charge for telephone or email time?" and "What are you thoughts about complementary or alternative treatments?" Open up a dialogue about the things that are important to you, and take into consideration how receptive the doctor was to them. Think, "Did the doctor give me a chance to ask questions?" and "Was the doctor really paying attention to me?"
Don't overlook the office dynamiciStock/shironosov
Just because you and a potential doctor get along great doesn't mean your relationship will be completely stress free. A practice's nurses and office staff play a huge role in creating a comforting and trustful environment. If anything seems off about your interactions with other staff members, bring it up to your doctor.
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Go with your gutiStock/daizuoxin
In the end, choosing a doctor is a personal decision. Because they're a person you'll be sharing a lot with, do a gut check. If you don't feel like you'll be able to tell them intimate details, continue searching.