When I first moved away from my small hometown to the big city to go to my dream school, the last thing on my mind was finding a new doctor in town. Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that this is something I’m going to have to deal with sooner or later. I’ve had the same pediatrician since I was born, and I know I can trust him, but I’m not going to lie—I’m getting tired of doing all the routine check-up stuff when I head home for the holidays. How do I find a good doctor in a new city?
Whether you’re a freshman who has moved to a small college town or a senior about to take their first post-grad job in a new city, there are certain mundane challenges you’ll find yourself facing that no one prepared you for. Finding a new doctor following a relocation is one of those not-so-fun parts of growing up that you never think about until you’re forced to confront them head on.
Even if you stick with what you know, your family doctor will ultimately retire, move, or pass away, meaning you’ll have to find a new general physician anyway. For people who move a lot, it’s an even more complicated situation, but nothing you can’t handle if you learn how to navigate the complexities of finding a new doctor. Fortunately, the Internet has made it easier than ever to find and read doctor reviews in all cities across the country. If a certain physician has major red flags, you’ll find out about them before you become a patient.
If you’re like most people, you’ll likely struggle for a bit to find that perfect doctor-patient relationship. For one thing, not all primary care physicians are accepting new patients in the first place, so you might have to “doctor-shop” for a few months before you find one who is willing to take you on. For another, many clinics have extremely long wait times. As a busy student, you might not like the idea of a doctor’s office visit becoming an all-day affair.
If you need a medical specialist such as a dermatologist, a psychiatrist, or an allergist, your best option is to research doctors as heavily as you can before enlisting their medical assistance. Look into a local doctor’s educational background, experience level, and online presence. In this day and age, just about everything you can imagine is accessible online, and when entrusting your personal, confidential medical files with a brand new doctor, you want to be absolutely certain they are the best doctor for you.
Sometimes, a care facility’s quality is low in comparison to the doctor’s services themselves. If they’re a high-ranked physician but practice at a low-ranked hospital or clinic, you might be better off looking elsewhere. This might mean that although their bedside manner is great and their patients are happy, the facility itself is insufficient to meet the needs of a large group of people.
A medical facility operates, inevitably, as a team, and if there is even one weak link, it can mean longer wait times, malpractice lawsuits, or dismissive nurses. Even if the office staff are rude to you, it may leave you with an uncomfortable feeling. One in five college students reportedly struggles with anxiety or depression, and the young adult mental illness epidemic is no secret to physicians. If you’re already plagued with enough stress, the last thing you want is to feel unwelcome at your doctor’s office.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to about two or three physicians, you may wish to make an appointment and visit the facility to see for yourself if you have a good relationship with the doctor and his or her team. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, and only make a second appointment with the doctor you feel most comfortable with. Your relationship with your doctor is important, so be sure not to rush the process, and to go with your gut.