At one point or another, everyone needs the help of a specialist doctor. To find one, most take a referral from their primary care physician or seek out recommendations from friends and online communities. However, there are better ways to go about finding the right specialist for you and your needs.
Most people believe that finding a medical specialist is a real challenge, unlike an air conditioning or porch and deck specialist, but a new logical approach is making this often confusing process an incredibly simple one. With just a few easy steps, you can find the perfect doctor.
Step 1. Know Your Needs:
Knowledge is power, and knowing exactly what type of specialist you need is the largest part of the process. Do you need the help of a pediatrician, an oncologist, a urologist? How can you know which one is the right specialist for your needs?
There are more than 880,000 physicians certified through the American Board of Medical Specialists with 39 main categories and 86 sub-categories. Some specialize in everything from ear infections to stem cell research. The trick to finding one that suits your needs is pairing a specialist with your specific symptoms.
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If back pain were your issue, for instance, identifying the source of that pain would allow you to choose between an orthopedist, neurosurgeon, or rheumatologist. To find out exactly what is causing your symptoms, visit your primary care physician.
Step 2. Check Your Insurance:
Once you’ve met with your physician and identified the root of the issue, call your insurance to find out which specialists they cover and how much of that visit is paid for. This step also helps you narrow down specialists in your area under your insurance network. This way, you can find a southern California ear, nose and throat specialist or one in New Jersey if need be.
Step 3. Sweating the Small Stuff:
There will more than likely be several specialists in your area who can treat your symptoms. Narrowing down that list is as simple as asking these important questions:
- Do you need a bilingual doctor?
- What is the doctor’s educational background?
- What are their hospital affiliations?
- What is their certification status?
- How soon can you make an appointment?
- What is the doctor’s treatment philosophy?
- How is their reputation?
Read as much information as possible on each specialist. This will help you identify whether or not your experience will be a pleasant one and if you feel that the doctor can accurately treat your symptoms.
Step 4. Get A Second Opinion:
Not on the specialist’s treatment option, but get a second opinion on the doctor themselves. This is the time to ask friends, family, and online communities about their experiences with this specialist. Gaining insight from others can help you make an educated decision about who you want to see.
Once you’ve found one or two doctors you think you’ll like, make an appointment with one of them. See how your visit goes, and if you would continue to see this specialist in the future.