How to select a physician
Choosing the right physician is the first important task for your medical health. A physician who may be right for a relative or friend may not have the medical expertise for a chronic condition or disease that you may have. Physician choices also are based on personal preferences in personality and bedside manner. Included below are some tips on what questions to ask a prospective physician before a serious health problem arises.
- First, narrow your choices in physicians by contacting the physician offices for the following information:
- Does the physician accept new patients?
- Does the physician accept your insurance?
- Is the physician board-certified?
- Is the physician’s office convenient to your home or office?
- If I need to be admitted to a hospital, which hospital will it be?
- Will the hospital accept my insurance?
- Are weekend and/or evening appointments available?
- If you do not speak English, is the physician or his / her staff bi-lingual?
- How many offices and/or physicians are in the practice?
- Once you have that information and have decided on a few possible physicians, find out if the office will allow you to meet with the physician or a member of the office staff on a consultation basis. If so, bring information regarding your medical history and use the following questions as a basis for your meeting:
- What is your medical education background?
- Do you have expertise in a specific chronic condition or illness?
- How do you handle referrals?
- What professional associations are you a member of?
- Do you have any sub-specialties?
- When you are out of town, who handles your patients?
- How are emergencies handled?
All of the above information provides a general guideline to choosing a physician. It is important to keep in mind that finding and keeping a physician is beneficial to your overall health because that physician is aware of your medical history and can coordinate all aspects of your care. Call or visit the following links to obtain more information on physicians:
- The Nashville Academy of Medicine provides physician information by calling 615-712-6236 or visiting our physician locator service.
- The Tennessee Department of Health website has information on license verification, disciplinary information and practitioner profile information. Visit https://apps.health.tn.gov/Licensure/. Type in the last name of the physician, the state code (TN) from the dropdown box and select “medical doctor”, or “osteopathic physician” as the case may be, from the “profession” category.
(Originally written by Mack A. Land, M.D., Past-President of The Memphis Medical Society)