Choosing a primary care physician (PCP) is one of the most important tasks when assembling your healthcare team. Your PCP is pivotal in coordinating all aspects of your medical care, from annual exams to routine illness and minor injuries, prescription medications and referrals to specialists and hospitals. When enrolling in any health insurance plan, you may need to select a PCP and you should feel comfortable with the person you choose.
Some PCPs specialize in the ages of the patients which they treat:
o Internists are medical doctors who specialize in the care of adults
o Pediatricians are medical doctors who specialize in the care of children
o Family medicine physicians are medical doctors who specialize in the total health care of the individual and the family.
Use our Physician Finder to select three or four physicians that might best meet your needs. Consider some of the following criteria when making your selections:
o Is their office conveniently located near your home/office?
o Do they offer extended (evening/weekend) hours?
o Can they accommodate your cultural and/or language needs?
o Do you have a preference for a male or female physician?
o Do you have any other special needs?
After narrowing your search, you may want to do some research on the physicians you have chosen.
o Talk to the people you know about your choices-friends, family, coworkers, other medical professionals for their personal recommendations. Ask about physician personality, whether they are happy with the care, do they feel comfortable discussing problems with their physician?
o Is it easy to reach the doctor by telephone and how long is the wait for an appointment?
o What are the physician’s educational credentials, state board certifications and professional affiliations?
After making your final choice and notifying your employer and/or health plan, make an appointment for a routine visit with your new physician. Even if you’re healthy when you make your appointment, this visit will allow you the opportunity to meet your PCP and his/her office staff and to familiarize yourself with their office procedures. When you do return to the office for a sick/emergency visit, the office will have all of your medical information.
Last reviewed: January 2008