When searching for new doctors, you obviously want the best care possible—but how do you know what to expect? To make sure you are in excellent and capable hands, keep these questions to ask your new doctor in mind when you go to your first appointment.
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) sets the highest standard for physicians—board certification means that this doctor has undergone additional specialty-specific training and has passed an exam for each specialty. This certification shows that the doctor has gone above and beyond what was required of them in medical school and has more specialized knowledge.
Does the doctor’s office offer evening or weekend appointments in case you need to cancel or in case you have an emergency? Ask about virtual options, too. Attending your appointment via an online portal is better than missing it completely. Your doctor should prioritize their interactions with patients and ensure that you are able to attend your appointment in an accessible way.
You can also observe this style over the course of your first conversation. Ask the question anyway. Some doctors like to give exact orders, while others offer a range of options for the patient to choose from. If the doctor hand-waves your concerns away, or if they roll their eyes when you mention any online research you’ve done, it may be a sign that they won’t listen to you or others during the course of your treatment. A callous attitude could simply be a personality quirk, but it’s wise to have the number of a physician negligence attorney handy, just in case. You should never be given medication that is known to give you allergic reactions, for example, and your voice should always be heard when you mention that something doesn’t feel right.
If you prefer to speak in a language other than English, make sure your doctor’s office has access to a medical translator who is fluent in that language. You have a right to receive medical advice in the language you are most comfortable speaking.
The search for a new doctor is important and highly intuitive. It is important to be completely comfortable with your primary care provider and listen to your gut when making these choices. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself, and don’t be afraid to keep looking.