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How to Choose a Doctor You Can Talk To

stethoscope-1-1541316A primary care physician with whom you can trust and communicate well is a necessary step to ensure good health. Finding a match with a primary care physician is necessary when moving between cities or when your current doctor no longer serves your needs. Do not worry about hurting a doctor’s feelings when changing physicians; they are professionals who understand the importance of the right doctor in maintaining one’s health. Whether you see a family practitioner, internist, or geriatrician, here are some tips to help you determine who is the right doctor for you.

Decide What You Are Looking for in a Doctor

Make a list of what you are looking for in a doctor. If certain attributes matter to you, make sure to include them. Some examples are:

  • Gender
  • Office Hours
  • Association with a hopsital or medical center
  • Part of a group of doctors 

Identify Several Possible Doctors

Talk to family and friends about whom they would recommend. Ask about that person’s experiences with that doctor. Check to see if that doctor fits within your health maintenance organization (HMO) or preferred provider organization (PPO), if you are a part of one, to avoid paying extra fees for a doctor outside the network. Develop a list of a few names so that you have a backup in case one doctor is not taking new patients or if the first doctor simply doesn’t work out.

Consult Reference Sources

The American Medical Association’s Doctor Finder website and the American Board of Medical Specialties’ Certification Matters database can help you find doctors in your area. These websites don’t recommend individual doctors, but they do provide a list of doctors you may want to consider. MedlinePlus, a website from the National Library of Medicine at NIH, has a comprehensive list of directories, which may also be helpful. For a list of doctors who participate in Medicare, visit

What Does “Board Certified” Mean?

If you are looking for a doctor with particular medical expertise, look into a doctor who is board certified. This phrase means they have extra training after regular medical school in their area of expertise. See this  database of all board-certified physicians.

Learn About Doctors You Are Considering

Call the offices of two or three doctors and talk to the staff for any more information you may want or need about the doctor’s education and qualifications. Set up the first appointment and decide if this doctor is one with whom you can communicate well. Try several candidates, and determine which out of the doctors is the best fit for you.

When learning about a doctor, consider asking questions like:

  • Do you have many older patients?
  • How do you feel about involving my family in care decisions?
  •  Can I call or email you or your staff when I have questions? Do you charge for telephone or email time?
  • What are your thoughts about complementary or alternative treatments?

Make a Choice

When making a decision about which doctor to choose, you might want to ask yourself questions like:

  • Did the doctor give me a chance to ask questions?
  •  Was the doctor really listening to me?
  • Could I understand what the doctor was saying? Was I comfortable asking him or her to say it again?

Once you’ve chosen a doctor, make your first actual care appointment. This visit may include a medical history and a physical exam. Be sure to bring your medical records, or have them sent from your former doctor. Bring a list of your current medicines or put the medicines in a bag and take them with you. If you haven’t already met the doctor, ask for extra time during this visit to ask any questions you have about the doctor or the practice.


About Sacred Heart Villa

The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ created Sacred Heart Villa (formerly St. Michael Convent) in 2003 with the vision of providing a personal care home for the Sisters and other seniors of southeastern Pennsylvania. The Sisters renovated St. Michael in order to create 35 personal care residential rooms. Sacred Heart Villa officially opened her doors to her first new residents in May 2004, with space for 57 Sisters and 40 other senior residents.  The facility has two residential buildings, a remodeled dining room, a new fireside lounge, library, café and beauty shop. The chapel remains in the middle of the facility for it truly is the Heart of the community. Each new residential room provides an individual with privacy, safety and security in an environment of beauty and grace. Mass is celebrated each day and is open to the public.

Sacred Heart Villa is now accepting residents. If you are seeking care for yourself or loved one, contact Sacred Heart Villa today at 610-929-5751 for a tour. You can also visit