This post is part of my Wellness Wednesday series brought to you in sponsored partnership with Aurora Health Care.
Last summer, my husband had an unexpected job change that put him at a new employer with a new benefits package. The insurance company that his employer used did not include the health network we had been with for as long as we’ve been married. As sad as I was to have to find new doctors for Jay and myself, it broke my heart to tell Josh that he could no longer see the pediatrician he had been seeing since about an hour after he was born. Finding a new doctor can be tough, whether it’s because of a change in insurance or because of the need to see a specialist in a new area.
Since your primary care doctor/physician (or PCP) is your go-to for everything health related, it’s important to find one you are very comfortable with. They will be the one you see most often for everything from your annual physical to immunizations. They can help with short-term health concerns as well as keep a running record of your long term health statistics. They are also your first step when you have a health question and are unsure what the next step should be.
Tips for selecting a primary care physician:
Ask around. Pretty much everyone you know sees a doctor at least for a check up. (And if they don’t, get on them about that!) Friends and family are usually pretty honest with what they like and don’t like about their own doctors so use them as a resource. I joke that, when I was pregnant, I asked the parents of my students who they had as a pediatrician and it seemed like all of the ones who had a parenting style I wanted to emulate went to the same doctor. He was the one I chose and Josh saw him for 12 years. I found my PCP because my husband had been seeing him for years before we got married. I liked him so much, I recommend him to my parents as well.
Check your insurance provider’s network. Once you have a name or two, make sure they are covered by your insurance policy. You don’t want any surprises when the bill arrives! Or perhaps a doctor is listed there that you hadn’t considered yet.
Use online tools. Many healthcare systems have online tools that can help you narrow down doctors who might be a good fit depending on your needs.
Check if the PCP you are considering meets your needs. Is there office located nearby? Do they have office hours that will fit with your schedule? Can they accommodate any special needs you or your family might have? You’ll want to chose a PCP who has the training and experience that best meets your needs as well. Most PCPs fall under one of the following categories:
- Family medicine — Generalists with training in pediatrics, gynecology and geriatric medicine.
- Internal medicine — Specialists in preventive care and diagnosing and treating complex illnesses in adults.
- Pediatrics — Specialists who focus on caring for newborns, babies, children and teens.
- Obstetrics and gynecology — Specialists in women’s care along with prenatal, labor and delivery services for pregnant women.
- Physician assistant — Works under a doctor’s supervision to perform exams, diagnose diseases and prescribe medicine.
- Nurse practitioner — Nurses with special training. Working as part of a professional team, they perform exams, diagnose diseases and prescribe medicine.
Meet them in person. While researching a doctor’s qualifications and getting recommendations are definitely important, in the end it matters most that YOU are comfortable with your final choice. It is perfectly acceptable to request an appointment to meet your possible PCP before making a change. I met with Josh’s pediatrician while I was still pregnant just to make sure that we were on the same page about a few things and get a general feeling of what he was like before the craziness of those first well baby visits.
Being prepared with a PCP means you have someone to call or see when the unexpected arises or when a minor medical issue comes up! Find an Aurora doctor here.