There could be a host of reasons why you might need a new family doctor. Perhaps your current one is retiring and you need a replacement quickly or you have just moved to a new city.

These physicians offer a range of family medicine services such as diagnosing and treating common illnesses and injuries. They can also refer a patient to other specialists with greater expertise when required. One can also visit a family physician for regular check-ups and for medical prescriptions.

Below are a number of factors that should help in choosing a new family physician.

1. Are they experienced?

When it comes to your health, you shouldn’t take chances. That’s why it’s important to determine how qualified and experienced your new family physician is before making a final decision. A doctor with years of experience will have treated a wide variety of patients and conditions, ensuring their knowledge is vast.

2. Are they available when you need them?

However good a family physician is, the most important thing is that they are available when you need them. Whereas it’s understandable that they have other patients to take care of, an ideal family doctor should have extended walk-in hours should you require urgent medical attention.

3. Do they work with other doctors?

Having a family physician you like is one thing, but their availability every time you need their services is another. An ideal family physician is one who works with other equally qualified and professional physicians who can attend to you when he or she is not available.

This is important because some medical situations may require urgent attention. If during such times your family physician is not available, one of their equally capable colleagues will be on hand to attend to you.

4. Where is the clinic located?

Having a family physician with a clinic in your neighbourhood is important, especially during those times of emergency.

5. What are other clients saying about their services?

Testimonials from patients who have been attended to by a family physician is an excellent way of knowing whether a new family physician is ideal for you. Check out their website and see if they have testimonials. You could also ask your friends and neighbours for referrals.

6. Are they warm and easy to talk to?

A good doctor should be warm and easy to talk to. They should be able to calm you when you are worried about your health. John Maxwell says that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. An ideal family physician should be caring and compassionate. Their attitude towards you should be friendly and courteous at the same time.

7. Are the staff friendly and helpful?

You might want to visit a prospective family physician’s clinic to watch them and their staff at work. Observe how the staff handles patients. Are they caring and friendly to the patients? How they treat other patients should give you a good indication of how they will treat you and your family should you fall ill.

8. Do they offer out-of-office access?

Find out if you can reach a physician or one of their staff members outside working hours. Can they be reached by phone or by email?

9. Does the physician have a clean record?

The last thing you want is to have a family physician with a history of malpractices. Check with your local medical board to establish if there have been complaints lodged against the physician.

10. What is the available range of medical services?

As a primary healthcare provider, a family physician should be able to provide an array of medical services. These could include immunization services, prescriptions, sports medicine, and family medicine, among others.