COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
Masks are still required in healthcare settings per CDC and state health department guidelines.
Looking for a new provider can be stressful, and rewarding when you find that just-right fit. Armed with the right tips and tools, it can be a little easier. Our doctors offer their thoughts to guide you to the best possible partnership.
Choosing a provider is about knowing yourself, says David Ruiz, MD, of PeaceHealth Southwest Washington Family Medicine in Vancouver, Washington.
“It all depends on how you relate to your clinician,” he explains. “We all receive and act on information in different ways. The more you can ask questions and feel comfortable doing so, the better match that person is for you.”
Important factors to look for in a provider include gender, age, years in practice, and how you believe the provider keeps up with latest in medical literature. When you know which of these qualities are most important to you, you can find the one who is a good match. Then you will be the best partner you can be in your own healthcare.
“The clinician’s experience and style matter most,” Dr. Ruiz said, “in finding the best match for you. Everyone wants the 4- or 5-star clinician from online ratings, but that might not be the best one for your style.” What works for others might not work for you.
Tracy Schmitz, MD, of PeaceHealth Medical Group Oregon in Eugene, agrees. “Find someone you identify with,” she says. “Talk to your friends and find out who they see. If you get along with someone, you’ll probably get along with their doctor.”
Most providers will give you similar information, explains Dr. Schmitz, “So find someone who will tell you in a style that works for you.”
Patients have many online resources that rate and review providers, including our own, Find a Doctor site. These can be a good place to start. More traditional search methods can also work very well.
It may take a few tries. Both Drs. Ruiz and Schmitz agree that patients should switch doctors if they feel uncomfortable until they find that just-right fit.
Primary care providers can be doctors (MD or DO), physician’s assistants (PA), or nurse practitioners (NP). They can specialize in family medicine for people all ages, geriatrics (for those who have a few more years under their belt), pediatrics for the kids or those under age 18 or internal medicine for adults, 18 and older.
Most people don’t need more than one clinician, said Dr. Ruiz. Often their primary care provider can cover a wide range of services. “You don’t necessarily need a gynecologist for a routine pelvic exam,” he said. “Social culture tells us when you need that service, you see a Gyn, but Gyns are surgeons.”
However, for people with some complex medical situations, the primary care physician can help determine when a specialist is needed.
“At that point, it’s a great idea for patient and clinician to have a transparent discussion about how medical care should be prioritized,” said Dr. Ruiz. “In other words, your primary care provider can say, ‘I’ll see you for these issues, but go to a specialist for those issues.’ ”
This is usually a personal preference of the patient, said Dr. Schmitz. “Many young patients would rather not be in a waiting room full of small children once they reach their teenage years. Pediatricians will usually start the transition at 18 years old.”
On the other hand, if a young person is comfortable with a trusted pediatric provider, he or she may stay with that provider through college, or until age 21.
Many people like the familiarity (and stability) of seeing one family medicine clinician, or one clinic, for everyone in their family, from the youngest to the oldest.