Your primary care provider (PCP) plays a key role in helping maintain your well-being and, when necessary, managing acute and chronic health problems. While medical competence is an obvious part of the equation, it’s also important to choose a doctor you actually like. “Every physician brings something different to the table, so look for someone you can form a good relationship with,” says Dr. Douglas Marx, a family physician at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin and chief medical officer of business development and practice integration at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network.
Start by asking friends and family who they see and like, suggests Jennifer Markowski, a family medicine physician at Aurora Health Care. If it’s important that your doctor is a woman, for example, or African American, be specific in your ask. Focus on the health care system your insurer prefers if you have health insurance, and filter choices based on convenient locations and lists like our Top Docs.
Know an individual or group committed to bridging divides in our community? Nominate them for a Unity Award by Oct. 31.
Narrow down your search.
Next, read candidates’ online biographies to learn more about their background and expertise. Markowski says many doctors have special interests, such as sports medicine or women’s health, that may apply to you. Some doctors’ online profiles include videos, which Marx says can give you a good idea about the provider’s communication style and personality.
Feel it out.
At minimum, you should feel like your doctor listens to you and takes your concerns seriously, says Marx. But it should also feel easy to open up to your provider, and that may hinge on factors like personality and bedside manner. “We talk about a lot of personal things, so you should feel comfortable sharing,” says Markowski.
Your doctor isn’t the only person you’ll be dealing with at appointments – consider other staff members, from the front desk staff to your provider’s nurse. Also think about your personal priorities: Is it important, for example, that it’s easy to get in with your PCP vs. seeing other providers for sick visits? If convenience is valuable to you, Markowski recommends choosing a clinic equipped with services such as labs, imaging and a pharmacy.
Know when to look elsewhere.
Not feeling heard or respected, or just don’t really like your PCP? Trust your gut if you feel it’s time to move on to a different provider. “A good physician always understands if you look elsewhere,” says Marx. “Let us help you connect with someone
who may be a better fit.”