Choosing a primary doctor is a very personal process. Each person has different criteria about what makes them comfortable when choosing a primary care physician.
It is helpful to determine the specific criteria that are important to you. The selection process may vary in length based on your personal criteria and it may be helpful to write down or verbalize what characteristics you would like to find in your primary care doctor. Is age, sex, education, language spoken, and specific temperament important to you? Are you looking for a small, medium or large practice? Should the doctor’s office be close to your home and are you looking for an urban or suburban environment? Do you want to receive care from the same doctor during each visit unless the doctor is on vacation? Do you mind receiving care from a team of professionals including a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, nurses and technicians? Do you want your physician to have certain specialized experience, including geriatric expertise?
Seniors looking for a new primary care physician may want to consider a geriatrician. Geriatricians are physicians who are experts in assessing, diagnosing, and treating older persons. After medical school, they perform their initial training in the specialties of either family practice or internal medicine. After this, they complete at least one extra year of specialty training by completing a geriatrics fellowship. Geriatricians are knowledgeable in treating patients who have multiple medical problems. They are specifically trained in how these ailments affect the physical and emotional health of an elderly person. For example, falls, incontinence, memory problems, depression, and side effects/interactions from taking many medications are all issues often addressed by geriatricians. They also are comfortable discussing end of life issues with patients and their families, including living wills, advanced directives, and goals of care.
Geriatricians can help evaluate one’s living situation to offer modifications or services that can make home life both easier and safer. Additionally, they can help people decide which living situation is best if an elderly person is having trouble managing his or her own care at home. An internist may also be a good choice in coordinating healthcare issues for seniors.
Certain questions to ask a prospective doctor or practice are:
There are number of ways to find a primary care physician, including:
It is important to take time in choosing a primary physician. This individual is the ombudsman in coordinating your healthcare needs. Your primary physician is an individual who is a key player in helping you navigate the healthcare system