Visiting a new doctor for the first time

Take some steps to ensure this is the right doctor for you!

Visiting a new doctor for the first time might be an anxious experience. You will be talking with someone that you’ve never met about your health and wellbeing. You will also be trying to determine if this will be the right doctor for you. Michigan State University Extension recommends that you prepare before the visit to help to decrease the stress.

At the first appointment, the doctor will have questions for you so that he or she can get to know you and your medical condition. You will also have questions for the doctor. After all, you are entrusting your care to this person, so you’ll want to be sure that he or she will meet your needs.

Some questions you might want to consider asking at the first appointment are:

  • What experience do you have in treating my particular health concern (diabetes, heart disease, etc.)?
  • May I bring a family member to office visits?
  • Are you willing to talk with my family member about my condition if I give my permission?
  • Will you give me written instructions about my care?
  • How will I hear about test results? Will you or one of your staff members call me, or will I receive results in writing?
  • May I access test results and my records online?

Asking questions of your doctor shows that you plan to be actively involved in your care. Questions, not only at the first appointment, but in subsequent appointments, provide your doctor with important information about you and most importantly, your health concerns.

Talking openly with your doctor builds trust and leads to better results for both of you regarding your health care. Open communication with your doctor will help to ensure care that is safe and thorough. After this first appointment, and in the future, think about whether the doctor listened to you and your concerns. Ask yourself:

  • How did the doctor and the staff make you feel?
  • Did you feel welcomed and comfortable?
  • Were you treated with respect?
  • Did the doctor spend enough time with you?
  • Were you able to ask all of the questions you wanted to ask?
  • Were your questions answered clearly?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is “no” then you might want to keep looking for a doctor. If you were satisfied after the visit, then your next step will be to make arrangements for your medical records to be transferred.

Having a doctor that you trust and with whom you feel comfortable is one key to quality medical care. The time you take to research and interview potential doctors will pay off in better health for you!

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