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7 Tips for Finding a Family Practice Physician

Family Doctor Riverview FL | Primary Care Physician

Are you looking for a family practice physician in Riverview, FL? It’s important to choose a doctor that’s qualified to care for your needs and makes you feel comfortable.

This article will help you understand what to look for in a new provider. You’ll learn about the qualifications and role of the family practice physician. There are also questions to help you narrow your search.

Keep reading to find the best doctor for you.

What Kind of Training Does a Family Practice Physician Have?

All family practice physicians complete a medical degree from an accredited school. During school, they must first pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Second, they complete periods of clinical instruction to practice their skills.

Upon graduation from medical school, they’re given the title, “Doctor of Medicine” (MD). This allows then to begin training for a clinical specialty in a residency program.

The family practice medicine residency program involves three years of training. These programs receive accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The residency includes experience in inpatient, clinic (ambulatory), and community care.

At the end of the first year (the internship), the candidate takes another USMLE exam. Once they pass this exam, they may continue in the residency.

Each resident must spend a certain number of hours in hands-on training. They also take specialty courses. Last, they complete the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) certification.

Every physician must also become licensed in the state where they wish to practice. Each state’s licensing rules vary. Yet, all physicians must complete the USMLE and ABFM exams and certifications.

What Does a Family Practice Physician Do?

Family practice physicians focus on delivering general health care to their patients. This is the provider you go to for routine checkups or non-emergency care. Your family physician provides ongoing and consistent care throughout your life.

If you don't have any specific health issues, you may only see your family doctor once a year. Using the same provider allows them to get to know you and understand what’s normal for you. This is vital in the early detection of new health issues.

Benefits of Choosing a Family Practice Physician

Today, individuals must become active consumers in their healthcare. The days of the town doctor that treats everyone is long gone. You must find a physician who will work WITH you to maintain your health and wellness.

Increased Comfort and Trust

Building a relationship with your provider makes it easier to discuss sensitive subjects. Many people suffer pain or worry because they’re embarrassed to talk about their problems.

It’s important to share your concerns. Often, your provider may offer treatment to resolve the issue. Other times, the doctor can ease your worries with the correct information.

Increased Understanding of How to Stay Healthy

Health and wellness education is part of the family practice physician’s job. This helps you increase your knowledge and live a healthier life. They tailor your treatment plan to your unique needs.

Whole Family Care

One great benefit of seeing a family physician is that they care for the entire family. This helps the doctor identify family-related health problems and address risk factors. It also provides convenience for the patient and their family.

Faster Access to Care

Since you and your family are already patients, it’s often easier to get a same-day appointment. Thus, if you become sick, you can call and get in to see a provider.

Reduced Healthcare Cost

For people without a primary doctor, they must often go to an Urgent Care Clinic or emergency room. This usually costs much more than going to your primary doctor. You also won't have to spend a long time waiting for care.

Some studies found that if more Americans used primary care doctors, health care costs would go down. A big part of the cost lies in people using the emergency room for non-emergency illnesses.

Referral for Specialists

Since your family physician knows your health condition, they can detect changes sooner. If you need to see a specialist, they can make this referral. With managed care, most specialists won't see patients without a referral.

Choosing a specialist can cause anxiety. You aren’t sure what might be wrong, and you don’t know who you can trust.

Having a good relationship with your family doctor helps you trust their referrals. This can make the process easier and less scary.

The family physician can complete some testing that the specialist will need. This makes the first visit more productive. The new doctor will have the basic information they need.

This can also save money by decreasing the number of visits and reducing the time spent waiting for test results. There are few things more stressful than waiting on a test result. Your family physician understands this and can help speed the process.

How Are Family Practice or General Practice Physician Different?

Both family practice and general practice doctors can make diagnoses and prescribe treatment. Often, general practitioners work in urgent care type clinics. They don’t often establish a long-term relationship with their patients.

As described, the family practice doctor focuses on long-term health and wellness. This includes managing immunizations, chronic health issues, and referrals to specialists.

The general practice physician has a more immediate focus. They assess and diagnose problems occurring at the time of the visit. This provider will order and provide treatment to improve this condition.

These doctors can also make specialist referrals if the condition needs further follow-up. The main difference is that you don’t develop a long-term relationship with the general practitioner.

Tips for Finding a Family Practice Physician

Choosing a family practice physician is an important task. You want to find a doctor that you and your family can trust to care for you in the coming years. The following tips can help you make the best choice.

1. Ask About the Doctor’s Training and Experience

Now you know the steps that each certified family practice physician must complete. Use this as a guide to determine if they have the proper credentials.

You also want to know about their experience. How long have they been in practice? Where have they worked?

Find out if the physician has completed extra training or specializations. Do they have experience treating patients with your condition?

2. Get Personal Referrals

Talk to people you know and ask them what doctor they use. Ask your friends or family if they're happy with their care and if they would recommend the doctor. If you know someone with a medical condition like yours, ask for their suggestion.

By asking different people for their opinion, you can gain more information. If you only ask one person, they may give you a skewed perspective. They may have had a bad encounter with a staff member and tell you to avoid that doctor.

3. Check Hospital or Clinic Websites

An important tool available today is the internet. If you look up physicians in your area, you will often find review sites.

Be sure to spend time evaluating the validity of these sites. Some web pages accept payments to post good reviews.

Many times, it’s more valuable to check hospital or clinic websites. They often post actual patient reviews.

Remember that this only gives the person’s opinion. Most people don’t take time to fill out a review unless they had a very good or very bad experience. So, only use this as one part of your evaluation and look for trends in the comments.

4. Look for a Physician Near You

If possible, select a physician that’s located in your area. This becomes more important when you feel sick. You won’t feel like traveling a long way to get to your appointment.

Also, most physicians have an association with hospitals near them. This means that if you need hospitalization, you’ll often go to the one near you.

It’s important to know that family practice physicians usually don’t provide care in the hospital. In-patient care is often managed by hospitalists and specialists.

5. Does the Doctor Accept Your Insurance

You may have a restricted choice of physicians to select from based on your insurance. At the beginning of your search, look at the list of providers on your insurance plan. Find out if you're allowed to choose a doctor outside of the network.

Insurance companies often use different pay scales for in-network or out-of-network physicians. Decide if you can pay the difference if your doctor isn’t in their network. This may shorten your list of options.

Don’t rely only on your insurance company’s published list of doctors. Often, these lists may be outdated. So, call the physician’s office and ask if they accept your insurance.

If you don’t have health insurance, you often have to pay out of pocket. Speak with the doctor’s office to see if they take patients without insurance. Also, ask for an estimate of the charges for a checkup.

You can also visit HealthCare.gov to find options for getting insurance in your area.

6. Ask the Staff Specific Questions

When exploring different options, don’t feel shy about asking questions. If the staff members don’t welcome questions, this may mean you need to move on. You want to find an office that shows an interest in you and your health.

Tell the office that you’re looking for a physician and ask to set up a consultation visit. Or you can make an appointment for a checkup to see if you feel comfortable with the doctor.

Making a list of questions will help you remember everything you want to ask. This also keeps you organized, which saves time for both you and the staff.

The following are some questions to help get your list started:

  • Is the physician accepting new patients?
  • Does the physician accept your insurance?
  • Can you set up a consultation to meet the doctor?
  • Is there a charge for consultation visits, and will insurance pay for this?
  • How soon can you book an appointment?
  • Is the doctor affiliated with a specific hospital?

You can also ask about the doctor’s credentials at this time. For example, do they have a board certification in family practice?

7. Questions to Ask the Doctor

Do not feel intimidated about asking the doctor questions. A caring and qualified physician should be happy to share their experience.

When patients feel comfortable, they'll share information the doctors need to treat them.

  • How long have you been in practice?
  • About how many patients have you taken care of with a condition like mine?
  • How much time do you usually spend on a routine patient visit?
  • Will my appointment always be with you, the doctor, or will I see other practitioners?
  • Will you know ahead of time if my appointment is with another practitioner?
  • Will you have visits with a partner physician?
  • Can I contact you after hours if you have a problem?

Pay attention to how you feel while talking with the doctor. Do you feel rushed?

Does the doctor seem interested in caring for you? Do you feel comfortable asking questions? Is the physician answering the questions that you ask clearly?

If you’re not comfortable, don’t feel like this consultation is a commitment. You can continue looking for the right doctor.

Are You Looking for a Family Practice Physician Near You?

Finding a new doctor can be a stressful endeavor. This article provided tips to help you in your search for a family practice physician.

If you’re in the Riverview, FL area, Dr. Nazneen Noorani would like for you to consider her practice. Dr. Noorani has been a doctor for 20 years. She’s Board Certified in Family Practice and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Dr. Noorani welcomes new primary care patients. Visits include a comprehensive physical exam including well-woman visits. We also have an on-site lab. Book an appointment or schedule a virtual visit today so we can address your health issues.