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Clinical Services at Rush Finding a Primary Care Physician

Finding a Primary Care Physician Who's Right for You

A primary care physician is just that: the first doctor you see for your health care needs. Whether you're managing several conditions or simply trying to stay healthy, it's important to have one. Developing a strong relationship with a primary care physician helps ensure not only that you feel comfortable with your doctor but also that your doctor knows you well enough to provide care tailored to your needs.

But how do you develop such a relationship? And how you do find the right primary care physician in the first place? The video below and the following guide offer some suggestions.

A Guide to Finding Your Primary Care Physician

Know the basics | Start your search | Consider key questions | Prepare for your visit | Have regular check-ups

Know the basics

All primary care physicians provide preventive care, promote health and wellness, help manage multiple or complex medical conditions, make referrals to a network of specialists, and diagnose and treat disease. But different kinds of primary care physicians do these things in different ways and for different groups of people:

  • Family medicine physicians provide comprehensive care for families and patients of all ages, from birth through older adulthood. They use their unique training and knowledge to address medical, social and emotional needs throughout each patient's lifespan.
  • Internists focus on the prevention and treatment of disease in adults. They work with patients throughout adulthood to promote health and wellness, provide preventive care services and suggest lifestyle changes that may help prevent disease.
  • Pediatricians specialize in the treatment of newborns, children and adolescents younger than 21. They offer guidance to help prevent illness and injury, monitor development, provide timely care of acute illness and help manage complex childhood conditions.
  • Geriatricians focus on treating adults older than 65, coordinating the many different services people need to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives as they age.
  • Obstetrician-gynecologists specialize in general women's health care, including the care of pregnant women and the diagnosis and treatment of female reproductive disorders.

Start your search

Deciding which kind of primary care physician suits you and your family can be a good first step toward finding one. Once you've made that decision, the following strategies can get your search off to a good start:

  • Ask for recommendations. Trusted family members, friends and coworkers are an excellent resource.
  • Consult online physician profiles. Many hospital, medical center and practice websites feature physician profiles containing contact details and basic background information, such as educational history and clinical interests. Increasingly, such profiles also contain more in-depth information about such topics as philosophy of care. For example, Rush features videos as part of the profiles in its Find-a-Doctor physician locator, providing a broader picture of physicians' personalities and their approaches to treatment. (Independent review and rating websites can sometimes provide useful information as well, but much of this information is not verifiable, so you should use such sites with caution and exercise good judgment.)
  • Learn which physicians your insurance covers. As you begin your search, contact your health insurance provider for information about your plan and the physicians and services it covers. You can also contact physicians' offices to ask if they work with your insurance plan.

Consider key questions

As you weigh your options, consider questions such as the following to help pinpoint primary care physicians who might best meet your needs:

  • Where is the physician's office located? Will it be easy for you to travel there from home or work?
  • What are the physician's office hours? Do they fit with your schedule?
  • At which hospital(s) does the physician have admitting privileges (the right to admit his or her patients to that hospital)? Does it offer high-quality care? Is it conveniently located?
  • To which local specialists or hospital does the physician refer patients?
  • Does the physician have any special clinical interests? Are these interests related to your health concerns?

Prepare for your visit

Once you've found a primary care physician and made your first appointment, make sure you're prepared. Bringing along the following items can help ensure a more successful first visit:

  • Bottles of all the medications you're currently taking.
  • A list of your questions. (For advice about what questions to ask, read suggestions from an expert at Rush.)
  • A notebook and something to write with
  • Your insurance card

Have regular check-ups

If you like the physician you have chosen and feel comfortable with him or her, ask before you leave when you should schedule your next appointment. Regular check-ups — even when you're healthy — can help you and your physician prevent problems and catch diseases in their earliest and most treatable stages.

Looking for a Doctor?

Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, is a leader in caring for people of all ages, from newborns through older adults.

Just phone (888) 352-RUSH (7874) for help finding the doctor at Rush who's right for you.

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Rush University Medical Center
1653 W. Congress Parkway
Chicago, IL 60612

Appointments are available during normal business hours, Monday through Friday. Call (888) 352-RUSH to request an appointment with a primary care doctor on the Rush medical staff.

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