4 Things to Know When Looking for a Primary Care Doctor (video)

Tips to help you find the right primary care physician

Tips to help you find the right primary care physician

Vivian Tran, MD, an internal medicine physician at Scripps Clinic, provides some easy tips to help you find the right primary care doctor for you. Location is important and so is the type of primary care physician. Learn the difference between internal, family medicine and pediatric specialists.

Video transcript

1. What is a primary care physician?

A primary care physician is a general practitioner. We're the ones that you see when you fall ill in the non-acute, non-emergent setting. We're the ones who will be doing your routine visits, your preventative medicine visits, your annual physicals and we're also going to be the ones who help coordinate your care.

2. How can you find a primary care doctor?

There are a lot of different ways to find your primary care doctor. You can call your insurance and ask them to assign you to a primary care doctor. You can ask your friends, ask your family and find a doctor who you're going to be comfortable with. And if you get a recommendation from someone you trust, it is more likely to be someone who you're going to feel comfortable with and trust as well.

You can go onto the scripps.org website and click on find a doctor. There are a lot of different ways to look for doctors through the website. 

3. What are some important factors when choosing a primary care doctor?

When you choose a primary care doctor, there are a lot of different factors to consider. One of the biggest ones is going to be location. You want to find a doctor who's going to be either close to your home, close to your work and easy to get to. You don't want to be driving 45 minutes when you feel ill to go see your primary care doctor.

The other thing to consider is gender. Do you want to see a male or a female physician, or do you not care, doesn't really matter to you? Doctor's hours are really important as well. Does your doctor work Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm? Do they have extended hours available that fit your work schedule?

And your doctor's languages are important as well. If you don't speak English, or English is not your primary language, you might want to find a doctor who is able to speak a second language and your language because then you wouldn't have to go through a third-person translator. We have translator services available of course, but it just improves your care and doctor-patient relationship in general if you are able to have a two-way conversation with just the two of you and not a third party.

4. What are the differences between an internal and family medicine doctor?

There are a couple of different primary care doctors available. I'm an internal medicine doctor. I see patients ages 18 and up. My pediatrician colleagues are the ones who see kids ages 18 and down, basically from birth to 18. We also have family medicine practitioners who see both kids and adults. There are geriatric doctors who see the elderly, 60 and older.

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