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How to Choose a Primary Care Physician

Your Primary Care Physician (PCP) is the provider you will typically visit for non-emergency, routine checkups, so it is important to choose a PCP that meets your health care needs.

To find the best PCP for you, consider the following:

  • What kind of physician do you require? The first step is determining what kind of PCP will best fit your needs. There are different categories of PCPs to choose from: general practitioners, family practitioners, internal medicine physicians, etc. Do some research, and consider the type of doctor best suited for you.
  • Would your friends and family members recommend their PCPs? Ask your friends and family if they can provide any recommendations. Specifically ask those that have health care needs similar to yours. Additionally, if you know any healthcare workers, ask if they have any recommendations. Use the connections you have to extend your search.
  • What physicians are in your insurance network? Choosing a provider in your network helps reduce out-of-pocket costs. Try searching your insurance carrier’s website for a provider directory to find local, in-network doctors.
  • What locations and hours work for your schedule? Having a PCP close to your workplace or home is convenient and can save you time and money. You are more likely to visit your PCP if they are easily accessible. Primary language should be considered as well. To prevent potential barriers, confirm the physician you are considering speaks the same language as you.
  • Does your potential PCP’s practice meet your expectations? Once you narrow down your search to a select few, contact the offices. Speaking to the staff can help you get a pulse on average wait times for appointments and what services they offer. Then, conduct some additional research. Is the online portal comprehensive? Does the practice offer telemedicine? Feeling comfortable with a practice and its staff is important.
  • How did you feel after meeting your potential PCP? When you find a physician that appears to be a good fit, schedule an appointment and meet them. During the appointment, review your medical history and any existing health concerns you may have. At the end of the meeting, consider your takeaways. Did you feel heard and understood? Did the doctor seem knowledgeable? Would you be content with that doctor as your PCP?

Finding the right PCP takes time and research, but the effort pays off. When you have a strong relationship with your primary care provider, you are more likely to contribute to preventative health and return for routine annual check-ups which lower the risk of disease and long-term health issues.