The yellow pages can be also be a useful source of possible names if you need to make a comprehensive list. Phone the doctors on your list. This might seem like a strange thing to be doing, but "telephone shopping" can provide you with a lot of useful information about the practice (such as office timings, fees, qualifications, hospital attachments, special interests).
If the receptionist cannot provide this information, ask to speak to the doctor or his assistant (please do this at a time convenient that you have been referred to him and need more information). Let your fingers do the walking! Finally, make an appointment to talk to the doctor in person- and please be prepared to pay for this! If you find your doctor is helpful and has time to listen to you, then you are on the right track.
At this first consultation, not only does the doctor get to know your medical problems and examine you, but you also get to know a lot about the doctor and this initial assessment is important:
- Are you comfortable with him or her?
- Does he explain properly?
- Does he use teaching aids?
- Does he ask for your views?
Often patients will stick to one doctor, even when they are not happy with him, simply because their family has been going to him for years (remember, doctors age too, and he may not be as good as he once was!), or because "he knows my case"- but don't hesitate to change doctors if necessary.
First, find a primary-care doctor- this could be a physician, or a family doctor. Women can use the services of a gynecologist, and for your children you will need a pediatrician.
Your primary-care physician should be someone who will take care of you, and will coordinate and oversee your care, referring you to a specialist if needed. It is not a good idea to consult the "top" specialist for every problem, though this seems fashionable these days- for example, going to a neurologist for a headache. This can lead to your getting poor-care- specialist often order unnecessary tests (which are expensive and painful) to rule out rare diseases (after all, they are specialists, and they cannot afford to "miss" a diagnosis!).