Being Well

Choosing the Right Doctor: How to Recognize When Your Doctor Isn’t the Best Fit For You

When deciding whether a doctor is the right fit for you, consider factors such as whether you feel comfortable asking questions. If a doctor isn't the best fit, it's OK to switch.

You know that choosing the right doctor is important. After all, you rely on your doctor to help you make decisions about your health, and it’s important that they’re someone who listens and with whom you can be open and honest. But what if you feel like your doctor isn’t the best fit for you?

Whether you feel like your doctor doesn’t listen, if it’s a matter of different personalities, or if it’s just a feeling in your gut, it’s OK to consider switching physicians.

To help determine whether your doctor is the right fit, here are five questions to ask yourself.

Is Your Doctor Someone Who Listens to You?

Does your doctor give you their attention and actively listen to you and your concerns? Does your doctor seem interested in getting to know you? Or do they seem distracted and interrupt you when you speak?

You should feel comfortable asking your doctor questions, and your doctor should take the time to listen and thoughtfully address your concerns.

Do You Feel Comfortable With Your Doctor?

How do you feel when you’re in the room with your doctor? Are they someone you feel like you can get along with, or do you have conflicting personalities? Since the doctor-patient relationship depends on honest communication, you want to work with someone you can speak with openly.

Is Your Doctor Someone Who Answers Your Questions in a Way You Understand?

Thanks to the internet, you have health information at your fingertips, but your late night Googling may bring up many concerns and questions for your doctor.

Your doctor is your best resource to get the information you need, but you don’t want someone who reverts to medical jargon and terminology. While your doctor is the medical professional in the room, you shouldn’t feel like you’re in the dark when it comes to your health and treatment.

Look for someone who will take the time to explain your situation or answer your questions in a way that you can understand.

Is Your Doctor Open to Second Opinions?

Your health is important, especially if you are facing a serious diagnosis or managing a chronic condition. You want to feel confident that your treatment protocol is the best for you, which may mean getting a second opinion. The Patient Advocate Foundation addresses common questions about seeking another doctor’s input.

Most doctors welcome a second opinion, and may be able to refer you. If your doctor seems offended by your choice to seek another opinion, it may be a sign to find another doctor.

Is Your Doctor Someone Who Advocates for You?

One of the most important considerations when choosing the right doctor is finding someone who will be your advocate. Medicine — from diagnosis to treatment options to health insurance — can be a confusing and convoluted system to navigate. You want to find someone who’s a partner in your health and who will help you seek the best care for your situation.

Choosing the Right Doctor

If you’ve made the decision to look for another provider, talk to friends, family and other people you trust and ask for recommendations. Also check to see if a doctor is within your insurance network, and consider the doctor’s availability and the location of the office.

Choosing the right doctor is an important decision and it can take time to build a trusting relationship. If something feels off or not right, however, trust your gut and look for a new provider.

If you're searching for a new doctor, UVA can help to pair you with a medical team that fits your needs.

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Christine Yu