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Choosing a Doctor

Bev Gravdahl, Project Coordinator

There are many reasons why you might be looking for a new doctor. Maybe you or your doctor moved to another city or perhaps your doctor is retiring.  If you need a new doctor, the following ideas can help you find someone who is right for you.

Your primary care doctor is the person who you usually see for general health problems.  When choosing a new doctor, you need to decide if you want this doctor to be a general or family practitioner, an internist, or a geriatrician. 

General practitioners treat a wide range of medical problems in people of all ages.  Family practitioners are similar to general practitioners, but have extra training to care for all family members, young or old.  Internists are doctors for adults.  Some internists take additional training to become specialists.  For example, a cardiologist is an internist who specializes in heart disease. Pediatricians are medical practitioners  who specialize in children and their diseases ages birth to age 19. Geriatricians care for the older adult.  A geriatrician is trained in family practice or internal medicine and has additional training in caring for older people.

Once you have a sense of what kind of doctor is best for you and your family, ask people whom you trust about doctors they might see.  Another idea is to contact a local hospital or clinic, referral service, or your faith community nurse; all of these options can help you navigate to find the right fit for you.

Remember that regular physical exams and health screening tests are an important part of your health care when choosing a doctor. Test results provide a snapshot of your current health and reveal opportunities to make healthy changes. Screening tests also can help detect problems early, when symptoms are not yet present.  When choosing a doctor, keep this in mind and ask questions about their recommendations for healthful living. 

For a complete guide to an adult screening schedule, visit http://communityhealth.mayoclinic.org/prevention-and-wellness/adult

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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