It's obvious that everybody would like to have their own doctor. And, it's pretty clear why. This gives the possibility to get qualified help round-the-clock. Such a doctor can better diagnose and better treat you because he constantly observes you. He's interested in your health and cares about prophylaxis. Finally, he is a close and trusted person whom you can tell things that you'd never tell anybody.
Family medicine is a separate medical profession that begun to actively develop all over the world after the Second World War. Today, nobody is deprived the possibility to acquire their own family doctor. You only need to determine what is more comfortable and effective for you: visits to particular specialists concerning any problem with your health or regular supervision by your family doctor.
First of all, a family doctor differs with his approach complexity. After a checkup by five different particular specialists, a person risks getting a lot of recommendations, and some of these recommendations can often duplicate or even mutually exclude each other. A family doctor has clear conceptions about his patient's state of health and prescribes treatments systematically reasoning from the principles of conclusive medicine and evaluating the effectiveness of recommendations on the basis of approved and scientifically grounded data. Thus, the health of the patient, when recovering, has minimal risk of side effects developing, and he is released with optimal medications saving his strength and resources.
A family doctor takes into account not only physical but mental state and social status of his patient. A person is not only a set of organs, but modern doctors, unfortunately, often forget about this. In addition, a family doctor uses elements of psychotherapy taking into account attendant factors' influence on sickness course: beginning from the domestic surroundings, social settings and conduct stereotypes, and finishing with emotional state. In this sense, family medicine is more humane as it is based on personal interaction between a family doctor and his patient.
One more key feature in a family doctor's work is his directivity to prophylaxis. Today, patients are used to addressing to see a doctor only when they already have serious problems with their health. A family doctor's task lies first of all, not in sickness treatment, but its prevention.
A family doctor's wide specialization allows him to be aware of all modern methods of diagnosis and treatment of the most widespread diseases. Of course, he does not substitute particular specialists whose task is to cure complex cases by specific methods. A family doctor, or general practice doctor, is the first doctor to whom you address your medical problem. Acting in the interest of his patient, a family doctor collaborates with particular specialists, rationally prescribes additional checkup and evaluates treatment's effectiveness.
Choosing a Doctor
Even when the decision about visiting a doctor is made, the question remains: how to choose a doctor? Oftentimes people think about what shirt to wear for certain occasions, but they won't take the time to think about finding a good family doctor. Others simply open advertisement as it is a question about roof repair or lawn trimming. Intrusting your health and even your life to an unfamiliar person is not something to be taken lightly.
Search when you are still healthy. Seriously ill people seldom have the strength and wisdom to check how good a doctor really is. And, if he's bad, his mistakes can be very costly. It is better to visit several doctors with a traditional complaint, or to just check your health, to see how well they perform. The principle is the same as with your car. When your car breaks down, your serviceman will pay much more attention and repair it faster than some mechanic across the street from the nearest auto-service that you have never done business with before.
Check statement of service. The chances that a doctor is good are higher if he collaborates with some medical centers or educational institutions. In such places, staff engaging is conducted very thoroughly and competently. And, if the doctor teaches, he's for sure well informed about the latest medical achievements.
Ask friends. If you have a person whose opinion is important to you - ask advice from them. Or a better option would be to ask those who have a poor health - they know for sure what doctor treats patients better.
Check doctor's age. One of the most important features of successful treatment is trusting relationships with a doctor. One investigation showed that a doctor treats a patient of other generation more attentively. If it is true, 25-year old patients, for example, would be better to visit 60-year old doctors, and 60-year old patients would be better to visit 35-year old doctors.
Ask a doctor. If you have a familiar doctor, ask him what colleagues he considers to be more competent in definite fields or where he himself receives medical treatment.
Here are some features you should better pay attention to when choosing a doctor...
Ability to listen. A good doctor will actively listen to all patients' complaints, asking them to repeat and specify if necessary.
Ability to talk. A good doctor explains everything in plain, easy to understand terms and avoids medical slang.
Responsibility. Your family doctor has to be a person who is always ready to see you for any reason.
Individual approach. A good family doctor has to not only treat a disease, but come up with a program for the patient's recovery. For this he has to know your working loads, eating habits, hobbies, etc. For example, if you are a waiter and your doctor advises you to sit more, you should better think about whether his other recommendations are rather professional.
Optimism. A doctor has to radiate confidence and optimism. Three hundred years ago Jonathan Swift said: "The best doctors in the world are doctor Diet, doctor Rest and doctor Cheery." And, great Botkin wrote: "The doctor who is better is the one who can suggest hope to a patient; in many cases this is the most effective drug."
Preparing for a Visit
It is necessary to carefully prepare for a visit: check out any illnesses that your family may suffer from; remember what drugs you take; note all your complaints and questions you would like to ask.
A good doctor likes it when a patient asks questions and answers in detail. Such a patient gains both physically and emotionally. And, the doctor feels better, too.
It is also important to let a doctor know what kind of collaboration you aim for. One prefers to blindly obey orders, others like to solve everything without any assistance, and there are those who simply choose suggested alternatives. You need to find a doctor who is ready for a mutual relationship. Otherwise you will both be waisting your time.
The matter becomes complicated if your medical insurance or budget is restricted by a circle of doctors to whom you can address, for example, by specific medical center's limits. However, it is worth looking for a doctor there, too. A family doctor has to be chosen carefully just like a man carefully chooses a wife, as one doctor joked.
It is possible that patients may often change doctors which can essentially complicate a consistent health care need. If you did not get insurance yet, do not spend money for its more flexible variant. Some medical companies and centers offer a wide selection of doctors. Others permit you to reach the list's limits but pay only 80% of your costs "on the side." In any case, do not hesitate to change doctors until you find what you are looking for.
Find Doctor Resources
If personal visits and neighbors' inquiries do not bring in results, you can use different resources, for example
Can you trust these ratings as much as you trust people? Ratings and responses can only be made between patients and doctors. The site doesn't permit a doctor or a hospital to be evaluated by outside people; only patients who did use their services can write responses and mark a rating. You can also visit ratemds.com or go to the website of the American Medical Association webapps.ama-assn.org/doctorfinder/home.jsp to receive basic professional information on virtually every licensed physician in the United States.
All these resources provide important information regarding a doctor or an institution, like contact information, activity profile, diplomas, photos etc. You can also learn prices for all types of services. Also, if you are a registered user, you can choose the time of visit and make an appointment. Being registered also allows you to request medical consultation concerning your case.