As NYC becomes a medical hub for world-class medical schools and expanding hospitals, our options for finding a primary care doctor can feel limitless. It can also feel overwhelming. Get started by asking questions that matter most to your health. What you discover could help establish a lifetime of good health.
“Your relationship with your primary care doctor should be one of the most meaningful and productive ones you have in your life,” says Richard Amiraian, MD, Director of the Primary Care Institute at the Mount Sinai Health System.
Here are five questions to consider when searching for a primary care physician:
1. Is his office close by? The truth is, New Yorkers need convenience. If your primary care doctor’s office is close by, the more likely you’ll schedule and keep routine appointments; get quick care when you need it; and stick with the same care provider for the long term. You should also choose a doctor who can provide specialty care or refer you to treatment nearby. The Mount Sinai Health System has multiple locations with ambulatory primary and specialty care services available.
2. Where did she go to medical school? You trust the experts with your health – make sure they’re prepared for the job. “Physicians who have completed medical school and are board certified have successfully completed their residencies and have been accredited by a national board that tests their knowledge and skills,” Dr. Amiraian says. You can easily check on certification status on websites like the American Board of Medical Specialties (www.abms.org), HealthGrades.com and Docfinder (docboard.org).
3. Is he a Mets or a Yankees fan? “A well-trained, knowledgeable physician is certainly important, but it also has to be someone you feel comfortable with and can related to,” says Dr. Amiraian. “The important thing is to have a physician who can get to know you over time, who can give you comprehensive care and coordinate with other doctors.”
4. Does she have good bedside manners? No matter how embarrassing or out of the ordinary you think your symptoms are, talking openly and honestly about it is the only way your doctor can best treat it. Your doctor should be just as open with you. “Truth and honesty are essential for the doctor to provide the best care possible,” Dr. Amiraian says. Also, be clear about what you want, ask a lot of questions and make sure you understand all your options. If needed, your primary care doctor will coordinate other specialists to keep you in good health.
5. How often will I have to visit? Your doctor will determine how often you need to have your exams based on your age, personal health and family history. Starting in your early 20s, schedule a baseline examination where you can review your health concerns, lifestyle factors and family history, and establish a plan to keep you healthy. Bring a list with you to each appointment detailing any changes, new symptoms or questions that have come up since your last visit.
“Many people believe if they’re feeling okay, they don’t need to see a doctor,” Dr. Amiraian says. “But it’s far better to try to prevent health emergencies than deal with one.”
Find and schedule an appointment with a great primary care doctor at mountsinaihealth.org or call 1-855-411-5969.