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How to Choose a Family Practice Doctor

Close up of a professional medical team, including a family practice doctor, standing with arms folded

It can be difficult, overwhelming, and uncomfortable to know who to choose when selecting the best family practice doctor. You might have a million questions running through your head as you are at the crossroads of making an important decision. 

You might be thinking: where do I even begin? Will the doctor have my best interests in mind? What if I cannot afford the care and services I need? Who can I go to for healthcare assistance or advice?

Do not panic.

What is a Family Practice Doctor?

A family practice doctor is a physician who you can visit for all healthcare needs and who evaluates both children and adults. They are the point of contact for: day-to-day procedures, seasonal colds, illnesses, injuries, diseases, annual physicals, or severe treatment plans. This medical physician also can provide referrals to specialists, if needed. 

A family practice doctor can also be referred to as an internal medicine doctor or general practice physician – don’t worry all family docs are well versed in the same preventative care.

Keep your needs in mind when it comes to healthcare and questions about a particular situation or treatment. As a great medical resource, your doctor should be the one you turn to when you are not feeling quite right. A new doctor might be needed if your medical insurance changed, you recently moved, or need a second opinion when it comes to your healthcare.

Female family doctor giving a young girl sitting on her mother’s lap a high five

Tips for Choosing a Family Practice Doctor

The following are some tips to consider when selecting the best family practice doctor. However, it honestly comes down to trial and error to determine which doctor will ultimately be compatible with your needs.

1 - References, Referrals, and Research

Ask for advice or direction from friends and family who you trust when it comes to choosing the best doctor. Even considering asking other healthcare professionals you know for a referral. Their insight might help you determine which doctor would be a good fit for you. Ask inquiring questions to see how their experience was with a particular doctor and if they would return. Word of mouth referrals are the most powerful.

Once you have developed a list of possible family practice doctors in your area, dig a little deeper by conducting your own research on those you might be considering. Cautiously consider online reviews, biographies, and other postings as they might be too good to be true. 

2 - Quality Education and Credentials

Since your daily health contributes to your overall wellness, it is the key to securing your future. Choose a doctor who is experienced, credible, and current in medical advancements and innovations. This means they have the required education, procedural skillsets, and are board certified. If you are unsure about any of these qualifications, you can simply search online to seek available resources to help you narrow down your list of candidates. 

Ensuring the doctor you are interested in is board certified will signal they have completed and are competent in practicing medicine, according to a national standard. You can expect quality care from physicians who continue to learn in their related field of practice.

It is a good idea to take precautionary measures and call the office before scheduling an appointment to ask about a specific doctor’s education, credentials, procedures, and qualifications.

Two doctors discussing patient outcomes as they walk through the halls of a hospital

3 - Availability, Location, and Convenience

Evaluate the logistics of a family practice clinic. Whether or not a family practice doctor is available and convenient will determine the amount of care and time it takes to be seen. Think about how much time you want with your doctor, if you can book same-day appointments or the possibility of meeting electronically through telehealth services – as these are all great benefits to getting the healthcare you deserve.

Some of your options might be limited due to your insurance plan and geographic location.

If you experience an emergency or have a life-threatening disease, you will want your doctor to be in proximity. Reduce the risk of severe health conditions because you have access to a family practice doctor.

4 - Personal Relationships and Communication

Male doctor consulting with female patient in a family practice clinic about healthcare services, treatments, and procedures

Find a doctor who values communication and wants to establish a personal relationship to best help you. After all, they will get to know you better than your spouse, children, or closest friends. To properly and adequately diagnose, treat, or prescribe, a great family doc will inquire to know everything about you. Providing knowledge about your medical history, current medications, lifestyle, and reactions to specific medications can help you establish a partnership.

A doctor is the one who helps you through difficult and hard times whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. Therefore, it is important to ask questions. Seek to first understand, then be understood.  

You should feel comfortable meeting with a physician and opening up. You want a relationship where you are able to take control of your healthcare by seeking to learn more about the medications you are on, alternative treatment plans, and basic healthcare routines.

5 - Trust Your Gut with First Impressions 

First impressions of a family practice doctor can tell you all you need to know. You know more about what you need than you realize. With your first exposure to a new doctor, you might get an uneasy feeling or gut reaction to whether or not you will be okay moving forward in selecting this physician. It is okay to need to find an alternative doctor and keep searching.

Consider taking a mental note of the office staff, nurses, and any other medical assistants you might come in contact with and evaluate if they are productive, professional, and respectful. This could be a glimpse of how it would be like to be a patient in this particular family practice clinic and could make or break your decision.

Before you leave your in-person consult, ensure you know your diagnosis, treatment, or next steps on how to move forward.

Remove all of the worry and anxiety when choosing the best family practice doctor by looking to those you trust, learning about the doctor’s education and credentials, finding a convenient and available location, and discovering a doctor who values personal relationships and communication. And as always, remember to trust your gut – as it will not lead you astray. General practice doctors should have your needs and care in mind and guide you to the best treatment, evaluation, and care available.

Concerned mother comforting her daughter while waiting for a routine check-up with a family docto

Elevated Health in Huntington Beach, California

Receive the best family practice doctor in Huntington Beach with Elevated Health. Your health is our top priority and we are a direct family care provider. As a DPC clinic, we offer unlimited office visits, and free meet-and-greet appointments. Valuing personal experiences and communication, our relaxed, stress-free environment allows us to help you every step of the way in your healthcare plan. Become part of our family by visiting our local clinic.

We provide 24/7 access when it is convenient for you. When you aren’t able to see them in-person, contact your physician through advanced technology, telephone, email, or text. Elevated Health strives to provide all services at-cost with no copays because we are paid directly by you.

Join us by becoming a member today!

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About the Author

Matthew Abinante is a board-certified family physician providing direct primary care to patients of all ages. Offering excellent care, diagnosis, and techniques, he continually participates in educational opportunities to best serve his patients. Working in Huntington Beach, he analyzes common aches and pains, proposes innovative treatment plans, and provides specialized services for each individual patient. 

After excelling for years, Matthew received his DO and MPH from Touro University in Vallejo, CA. Matthew completed his residency training at PIH Health Hospital in Downey, CA, where he became a board-certified and trusted family physician who values patient-doctor relationships and clear communication.