You’re on the hunt for a new family doctor. After an exhaustive search, you’ve found one that is accepting new patients but how do you truly know if he or she is right for you?
Good communication, one of the most important aspects of your relationship, requires trust and rapport; and there are types of personalities that you are more capable of trusting and comfortable with than others. This is where the “meet and greet” comes in. The first meeting with a new physician is usually directed at you – the patient – so the doctor can learn about you and establish how to best treat you. However, be sure to use this opportunity to ask questions and learn about the doctor, too.
Use your time with the doctor wisely. There are a number of questions that are better suited to the office manager or front desk staff. Tip: certain days and times are busier than others at a medical office. Call to inquire about the best time to ask your questions – it’s probably not 5 minutes before your meet and greet.
Questions to ask the office staff:
- What days/hours does the doctor see patients? What are the office hours? Does he or she normally run on time?
- How long does it usually take to get a routine appointment (blood pressure checkup, routine physical exam)?
- How quickly can I get an appointment if I have an emergency? What about nights or weekends (after-hours care)?
- Vacation coverage – who sees the doctor’s patients when they go on vacation?
- What is the cancellation policy? Is there a charge for missing an appointment?
Questions to ask the physician:
- Am I able to call or email you with non-emergency questions?
- Do you accept multi-symptom appointments? If I come in with a list of 5 problems, what happens?
- Should I expect to see you each time I visit, or is this a group practice?
- Can I see someone else in the office if you’re unavailable (physician, Nurse Practitioner)?
- Do you have specialized training or areas of particular interest?
- If you are seeking treatment for a particular condition or issue, do you have expertise treating my condition?
Review the answers you received in detail before making your decision. Did your experience with both the office staff and physician meet your expectations? Were there any communication barriers or concerns? And most importantly, do you believe the physician and staff can properly support your ongoing health? If you said “no” to any of these questions, consider looking for someone who better meets your needs.