Choosing a Health Practitioner

Choosing a Health Care Provider

There is no infallible method for choosing a doctor, but you can take some steps to protect yourself and your family.

Compile a list of potential doctors.

Ask friends, co-workers, family members, nurses or other health care practitioners for recommendations (this is better than consulting doctor or hospital referral services).

Contact your state licensing board

to check each doctor's licensure status. Ask about their certifications, professional organizations and hospital affiliation. Board certifications and state licensure are a good start, but only demonstrate a minimum standard of excellence.

Make an initial phone

call to see if the office staff is friendly and helpful. Their attitudes usually reflect the attitude of the doctor for whom they work. Tell the secretary that you are looking for a doctor and would like to schedule an appointment with the doctor to get acquainted. If the doctor isn't taking new patients and you aren't sick, you may choose to wait for the next available visit.

Even just a few minutes on the phone with the doctor may provide a sample of their manners. A good doctor will respond fully, empathize and act as a wise and compassionate teacher. Some Questions to Answer for Yourself:

Do they have or project a healthy lifestyle?

Do they look healthy? Keep in mind that one's life is one's message.

Do they seem to sincerely care about you?

Do you feel trust and confidence? Do they show interest in your family, lifestyle, and diet? Are you advised about other options or treatments? Do you participate in choosing these options? Are they accessible?

Are you working as a partner with this physician?

Healing is a relationship. You want someone who will be a team player… one who will work with you. Will he/she be supportive to you making your own decisions even if at times they are contrary to his/her advice? Are you unconditionally accepted?

Do they offer a sliding fee scale based upon financial need?

Medicine today is practiced like any other business to stay afloat. . However some doctors view their work as a service or ministry and understand people's financial limitations, so they allow flexibility in their financial arrangements. After the visit:

How well did they communicate with you? Do you feel at ease talking to them? Did they teach you about prevention and good health maintenance? This is one of the most important qualities in distinguishing the mediocre doctor from the excellent one.

"While doctors should tell you the side effects, cost, effectiveness of procedures and options, no law ensures that they will fulfill it."

Don't hesitate to try another doctor if your trial visit isn't great. Remember, that while doctors should tell you the side effects, cost, effectiveness of procedures and options, no law ensures that they will fulfill it. Getting good treatment is up to you… unless your know your medical rights, there is a good chance they will be violated.


Author Dr. Michel F. Garay

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