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How to Choose a Primary Care Physician

First, gather names of primary care physicians in your area:

  • If you have health insurance with a managed care organization, look through its directory for doctors in your area. Always double-check with the doctor's office to make sure they still participate in your plan.
  • Others who may be able to give you good recommendations include other doctors you see regularly, such as a gynecologist or pediatrician; friends, colleagues and neighbors; and your local health care system's referral service

Once you have a list of names, check to see whether each of your potential primary care physicians is board-certified. Board-certified doctors have met standards above and beyond those required to get a medical license. The American Board of Medical Specialties website can verify your doctor's board certification.  You should also look into the physician's professional affiliations to be sure he or she is either a staff member or an attending physician at a hospital in your area.  Some physicians are "on staff," others may have "privileges" to treat patients at our facilities – doctors affiliated with Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Newton Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center and other Atlantic Health System programs have been through rigorous credentialing review.

Your first visit

You and your primary care physician are going to be a team working on your health and well-being together. To forge an effective relationship, you need to be completely honest and open about your lifestyle. Remember, everything you tell the doctor is confidential. Bring with you a summary of your medical history – childhood diseases, chronic illnesses, hospitalizations, medications, plus your parents' health history and the results of any recent medical tests. Also, bring a list of specific questions you have, and be prepared to take notes.