How to Find a Good Doctor

by Mona Saint MD

I am moving out of state and am wondering if you have any recommendations on how to find a doctor?

It can be very difficult to find a good doctor. You might first check with your current physician, as sometimes they have colleagues in the town you’re moving to. Also, asking trusted neighbors, moms, and coworkers can often give you a good starting point if you have just moved to a new city. However, even if you get a recommendation, I would suggest doing a little more research  at this point. It is good to make sure the physician is board certified, and, if possible, to talk to any nurses or physicians that you know to see if they have any recommendations of physicians or hospitals to avoid. If you can manage to find an excellent primary care physician or ob/gyn, they can be invaluable in helping to guide you to specialists and help to manage your care if you have multiple medical conditions. When you do find a doctor with all of the qualifications, the next step is to make sure they also have a good bedside manner and really listen to you. If not, I suggest finding another doctor. This is not always possible, but for those in major metropolitan areas there are usually many good physicians to choose from, so there is no need to put up with someone who is not caring or empathetic.

It is also important to find out  which hospital the doctor has privileges at –opt for the higher volume, bigger hospitals in your area. The more frequently a surgical team does the same procedure the lower the complication rates. When finding a gynecologist, it is great if they are well versed at the latest laparoscopic and minimally invasive procedures for the common gynecologic conditions. For pregnant patients who are choosing where to deliver, select a hospital that has an anesthesiologist and neonatologist in the hospital 24/7 and a Level 2 or 3 neonatal intensive care unit (these are the highest level NICU’s that can care for sick or unstable babies, and you always want to be on the safe side). Also find out how many hospitals your obstetrician covers. Ideally you want them at only one. If it is more than one, find out clearly about the back up system they have if you come to deliver and they are delivering or in surgery at another hospital. Another important factor is how many people share in your Obstetrician’s call group. You may love your doctor, but if it is a large call group, the chances may be low that he or she will be the doctor for your delivery.

Finally, I know as a physician, patient, and mother of kids, it is so important if you can find someone with a friendly and respectful office staff. Sometimes I find the seemingly minor details like a pleasant and thorough office team, a good communication system, prompt answering of phone calls and prescription refills, and easy access to results and appointment booking can turn into the most important factors in my healthcare experience. The doctor and her office staff are a team, and you want to find one that is working well to best care for your needs.

Good luck to you in your move and pursuit of a new physician.