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The NSPA Blog

Finding a Physician that “Fits”

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Posted on February 4th, 2016 by Teri Dreher, under Take Charge, Tips & Resources

Finding a primary care physician in today’s world of healthcare is more complicated than it used to be.

Gone are the “Marcus Welby” days of the past, when your family doctor knew your history by heart and would see you wherever you needed to be seen: office, home, hospital, or ER. Unless you have the means to pay for a concierge physician’s yearly membership fees, your own doctor will probably not even see you in the hospital. Instead, hospitalized patients today are cared for by “hospitalists.”

Hospitalists are physicians who specialize in caring for hospitalized patients and they are actually employees of the hospital. Depending upon their rotation schedule, it’s possible to see up to 3-4 different doctors working on days that a patient sees them. And don’t forget the specialists, whose roles often overlap with the hospitalist service. Patients are often confused by having so many different doctors and wonder who the “chief cook” is for their care management.

When looking for a new primary care physician, I often tell clients to ask several important questions, to make sure there are no surprises later on:

* Will I see the same person for primary care each time I come to the office?
* What happens when I go to the hospital?
* Does the doctor accept Medicare and/or my secondary insurance?
* How long does it typically take to get an appointment if I am sick?
* Can you tell me if the doctor has experience treating _______?
* What hospitals does the doctor have admitting privileges at?

Before even calling for an appointment, make certain you get a reliable source to recommend a physician. Internal sites like Healthgrade.com or Zocdoc.com are fine to search for the basics, and even find a lecture and educational background. Keep in mind, however, that not all doctor recommendations are always accurate. Disgruntled patients sometimes make completely false accusations and some sites may have dozens of glowing recommendations posted by the office’s marketing department. Try to get a recommendation from nurses or doctors that have worked with your potential doctor themselves and ask who they would send their own family members to. That is usually a pretty good endorsement!

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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