How To Interview Your Doctor {with printable questionnaire}

Over the years I have seen handfuls of doctors. Throughout the time I have been able to hone in on how to find a good doctor. This often feels like finding a needle in a haystack. I would recommend weeding out the bad ones because your health is at stake as well as your time and money. Thousands of dollars and countless hours are spent with a doctor that is incompetent. The emotional toll can be devastating as well. Something I also want you to know is you have a choice in whom you choose. Don’t get stuck with the same person who is doing you no good. The ball is in your court, not the doctors. It’s your life and your body we are talking about here and no one cares for those more than you (and God of course!)

Since I have already gone through this draining process over many years, I wanted to share my suggestions on how to discern between a doctor that is willing to partner with you on your health journey or one that is bought and entrenched in old dogma and stuck inside a box. These suggestions apply to any medical doctor, practitioner, dentist, chiropractor or anyone who will be partnering with you in your healing process. *If you are searching for a chiropractor or health coach then some questions in the questionnaire won’t apply.*

Interviewing the doctor does not just have to do with the doctor. Instead, it is multifaceted and all encompassing of your entire experience with the staff communication, paperwork, billing, doctors bedside manner, and testing and treatment. In every medical profession there are good and bad doctors. Beware and be prepared!

Office Staff First (including nurses, phlebotomists, etc.)

In my experience, a medical persons office staff is the first thing to analyze.

  • Did you email and get a friendly response that was timely?
  • Did you call and speak to a personable person over the phone? Is it easy to get a hold of someone on the phone?
  • When you went in the office did they greet you with a smile and make you feel welcomed?
  • Did they seem organized and were they expecting you? Were they organized with your paperwork, forms to fill out, and filing (if you could tell)?
  • What was your wait time to be called back?
  • Overall, did you feel treated like a human or like a number by the office staff?

Personally, if I answer no to any of these then I either will not pursue seeing the doctor or I will make a mental note that the office staff has a red flag. The experience should be considered when deciding if the doctor (and his staff) will be a good fit. If you have to babysit the office staff in regards to your labs, health matters, billing, then I can tell you there will be a lot of strife in your journey with them and you will more often feel like a number rather than a valued person in that office. In seeking a Biological Dentist I turned down one in particular whose office staff was very nice on the phone and said they would get some paperwork to me but never did. That is a tell tale sign of disorganization that I didn’t want to be caught up in.

Intake Paperwork

Your analysis of this section will really depend on what type of doctor you are planning on seeing. If you are interviewing an allopathic doctor (which this post is not tailored to as a whole) then your discernment of the paperwork will be different than when analyzing a holistic or functional doctor. When you are dealing with chronic issues rather than acute, and you’re looking for a holistic, functional type doctor you definitely want to pay attention to the initial paperwork they give you. In my experience, the more in depth the questions and the farther back in history the paperwork goes the better the doctor may be. When I have filled out intake paperwork in the past I have had doctors give me one page (in the office that I fill out) then take me back for the first visit. On the other hand I have also had doctors send me a 30 page intake booklet that my entire health history (from being born) is written and taken into account. In this instance, the doctor actually studies these forms and formed a physical written timeline of my health journey and presented it to me upon my first visit. I have also experienced everything in between those two scenarios – more or less paperwork, more or less history, more or less pre-work on the doctor’s part, etc. I have found that the more extensive and in depth the intake paperwork goes and the more time the doctor spends studying your history BEFORE the appointment, the better the appointments and treatments will go with the doctor.

Actual Appointment (or first consultation) With The Doctor

Some patients think this is a means to the end for a decision on a doctor but the above to sections I wrote about are critical in making your choice. You will be dealing with the office staff more than the doctor during your journey and if that part isn’t a well oiled machine it could be detrimental to your well-being.

Questions to Ask Yourself During and After the Appointment

During your initial meeting with the doctor or practitioner pay attention to how you feel. I know this may sound silly but I believe we have intuition (namely the Holy Spirit if you’re a believer) that will help us discern if the doctor is a good fit.

  • Did he or she make eye contact with you?
  • How long were you able to spend with the doctor?
  • Was the doctor in a hurry?
  • Did he or she listen to you?
  • If you were checked in any sort of way was the practitioner gentle with you?
  • Did they smile and relate to you?
  • Were you comfortable while in the office with this person?
  • Do you feel like the type of questions the doctor asked helped him or her understand your history better or were they questions you feel were irrelevant?
  • Did the doctor listen thoroughly to how you feel as well as your answers to questions?
  • Did you feel placated or cared for?
  • Did the doctor seem prideful or arrogant?
  • Do you feel like you can respect this doctor? Why or why not?

These are all questions for evaluation of your doctor and, because everyone is different in their needs and what they are looking for in a doctor, some of the answers to these questions will vary. For myself, I need a doctor who has a good bedside manner and is friendly, makes eye contact and smiles. I need a doctor who doesn’t rush and who makes me feel like I am their only patient. They need to listen to me and ideally, the first actual appointment (not consultation) should be around 2 hours so they can get a good understanding of my history and build a rapport with me. I need to feel comfortable telling the doctor things and not feel like I need to keep certain things back. Overall, I need to have a respect and trust for and with this practitioner because I am literally, in some cases, entrusting my life to him or her.

Questions to Ask Your Potential Doctor During Your Visit (ideally a consultation)

  • How long have you been in practice?
  • Where were you trained? Please tell me about your education.
  • How would you describe your practice?
  • What do you feel you specialize in?
  • When do you plan to retire?
  • What are your primary treatment modalities and protocols? Are your first line treatment options diet, nutrition, herbal medicinal methods, chiropractic adjustment, nutritional  supplementation, hormone replacement, and/or prescription methods?
  • Do you use laboratory tests (urine, stool, saliva, blood) or other things or both? If there are other tools you use, what are they?
  • Have you ever treated someone for what I am coming to you for?  If so, how did you help them and what was the outcome?
  • If a patient doesn’t feel comfortable doing something you suggested how do you handle that?
  • What is your availability for appointments?
  • Do you take insurance?
  • What is the cost of an office visit?
  • Are you cash based and if so, can you tell me how that works in your office?

Depending on the type of care you are seeking some of these answers will vary as well. Ideally, I like a doctor who has been in practice for a while and has clinical experience under their belt. However, it’s important be wary of a doctor who is “on their way out.” Meaning they were once a good health care provider but now they are ready to retire and aren’t up on the latest research and really just want to be done working. The most competent doctors I have experienced are open minded about latest research and treatments and are willing to think outside the box (of their training in some cases). They are not forceful or fear-mongering, rather understanding and willing to provide lengthy explanations if needed. They don’t get angry when you don’t want to take a pill or do a protocol they suggest. Instead, they are open to finding something you are comfortable with. I also tend to gravitate toward doctors that don’t take insurance because I find that their hands are not tied by the insurance companies and they are willing and able to do very effective testing that most insurance companies don’t cover. Often times these doctors have reasonable payment plans and want to help their patient out financially.

In Conclusion

Hopefully this will give you a good basis and guidelines on how to find the doctor you are looking for. While there is no perfect doctor, because, after all, they are humans too, it is important to assess all the things written in this post in order to find a good fit for you in the circumstances you are in. Don’t be discouraged if you interview several doctors and they don’t make the cut. Ask God for guidance and He will direct your paths to the perfect person in His perfect timing. Good practitioners are out there but we have to do our homework and be proactive in order to find them!

Below you will find a two page printable. The first page discusses questions (that are in this post) that you’ll want to ask yourself regarding your experience at a particular doctors office. The second page lists all the questions to ask your potential doctor and leaves space for writing the answers you get.

Get your printables here 

Bless you my friends. I am praying for you in your health journey!

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Jennifer | Feasting On Joy

Hi! I’m Jennifer

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