Choosing a Family Doctor

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What is a family doctor?

A family doctor is a doctor who takes care of the whole family. Family doctors create caring relationships with patients and their families. They really get know their patients. They listen to them and help them make the right health care decisions.

What do family doctors do?

Family doctors take care of the physical, mental and emotional health of both their patients and their patients' families. They know your family's health history and how it can affect you. They are trained to care for you through all the stages of your life.

Family doctors are trained in all areas of medicine. They can diagnose and treat the full range of problems people usually bring to their doctors. They know when to treat you, and, if necessary, when to bring in another specialist you can trust.

What kind of training do family doctors have?

Family doctors know the most current treatments and technologies. They train for 3 years in real practice settings, treating patients in the office, the hospital and at home. And they re-certify more than any other medical specialty. Family doctors also continue to educate themselves. This allows them to apply the latest medical breakthroughs to the everyday care of their patients.

I don't have any health problems. Why do I need a family doctor?

Family doctors are specially trained in preventive medicine. They believe that preventing a health problem is better than having to overcome one. They help you make the right health choices to keep you and your family healthy.

How do I find a family doctor?

If you are looking for a family doctor, try talking to your friends and family. Once you have the names of a few doctors, call their offices to get more information. Some things that you should ask include:

  • Do they accept your insurance?
  • What are the office hours?
  • What hospital does the doctor use?
  • How many doctors are in the practice?

Once you find a doctor who meets your needs, schedule an appointment so that you can meet and talk to the doctor. During the appointment, make sure:

  • You're comfortable talking to the doctor.
  • The doctor answers all your questions.
  • The doctor explains things so that you can understand.
  • You had enough time to ask all your questions.

Remember, it takes time to build a relationship with your doctor.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 01/11
Created: 08/05

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