stethoscope and book with a blurred background

Finding the right doctor is like finding the right home. Both are major milestones and both involve doing some research and asking the right questions before inking the deal.

So why not ask the right questions before choosing a doctor yourself? Here are four steps to help you find a doctor you can trust.

Step 1: Know Your Needs

know your needs

Know what you’re looking for. A good doctor to one person may well be a bad doctor to another.

Do You Prefer a Certain Type of Doctor?

Some people prefer a doctor who prescribes medication more liberally than others. Some people want their doctor to listen and involve them as a partner in healthcare, while others just want their doctor to make the decisions so that they can get in and out of the clinic fast.

Is the Waiting Time an Important Factor?

You may also want to think how much time you are able to spend waiting for your appointment. Some clinics have long waiting times. If your medical condition is fairly stable and you only need to visit the clinic a couple of times a year, the waiting time isn’t going to be a bug bear.

However, if you have to make frequent visits and are short on time, you may want to find a clinic with shorter waiting times and plan your visits well.

Are You Working Shifts?

For those who have to work night shifts, a clinic that is en route to or from work may be right for you.

If you are a shift worker — working both day and night shifts — then the clinic that is best able to cater to your hours might be the better choice.

Do You Want a Private or Public Healthcare Provider?

You will also have to decide between a private or public healthcare provider. This decision depends on your health insurance coverage and personal preferences, like how much out-of-pocket monies you are willing to pay.

There are pros and cons to either choice, ranging from costs and waiting times to how much personl attention you desire and access to specialist expertise.

Do You Prefer a Group or Solo Practice?

You may also want to weigh the pros and cons of a large practice with multiple doctors or a smaller practice. While smaller or solo outfits let you build a personal relationship with one doctor, larger outfits often have doctors with different specialist expertise beyond family medicine, like in paediatrics, gynaecology and so on.

Related: The ABCs of Health Screening

Step 2: Ask Around

ask around

Once you have a firm grasp of your needs, the next step is to ask around. Ask your friends, family, healthcare providers and other people you trust about doctors they know.

Ask them about their experiences. Do they feel at ease talking and interacting with the doctor? Is the doctor open towards questions? Does the doctor provide education or encourage self care, and so on.

Another way of asking around in today’s digital age is checking online reviews. Read the comments and interpret ratings carefully. Do not base your decisions solely on reviews as what may have worked for others may not work for you.

Related: Advance Care Planning

Step 3: Check Their Credentials

check their credentials

Check if your doctor is board certified in the area of medicine you are consulting him or her for. You can easily do this by visiting the Singapore Medical Council website and performing a ‘Search for Registered Doctors’ at Simply key in the doctor’s name or Department/Name of Practice Place.

If you have a health plan or insurance, their website provides yet another useful source of information. Many have a designated panel of doctors who meet their standards of quality.

Related: Towards a Better State of Health

Step 4: Have a Look-see

have a look-see

Before making the final decision, drop by the clinic to see if the doctor is a good fit for you.

When you have a chronic medical condition like diabetes, you’ll want an open and trusting relationship with your doctor that allows you to ask questions and share your concerns.

Here are some tips to make the most of the first consultation:

    • Observe the clinic environment. If everyone seems rushed or impersonal and it is important for you to have quality time with the doctor and feel heard, you might be better off with a clinic that is more personal.

    • Bring along a friend or relative if you have problem expressing yourself, as they can help you decide whether the care you are getting fits your needs.

    • Share your medical needs. Keep your history brief and to the point. It is not uncommon for polyclinic doctors to see more than 50 patients a day.

    • Observe how the doctor interacts with you. Does he listen to and address your concerns adequately? How does he ask questions about your condition? If these are important to you, look out for them.

    • If you think you might need more support out of the clinic, ask questions like “Can I call or email you or your staff when I have questions regarding my diabetes treatment plan?”

Now that you know these four steps, give it a try! Start your research and find a great doctor.

Do you have a great doctor? How did you find him or her? Tell us about it at our Facebook page.

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