Although we often don’t think about it, finding a good physician is a lot like shopping. Sometimes you need to go to several stores before you find the right fit. Below are seven questions to ask yourself when choosing your family doctor in Israel:
- Accessibility – You may have met an extremely nice doctor on the plane over here but if she only sees patients once a week in Eilat, she might not be the best choice.
- Does the doctor speak your language? Not just your native tongue (which is a bonus) but does he also understand your cultural and religious contexts.
- Does the doctor dismiss your concerns? If he advises you to take a shot of whiskey for the lower back pain you’re experiencing (true story) then you may want to “shop” for another doctor.
- Can you, your spouse and your children be seen by her? Some GP’s are only allowed to see those over 18. Make sure you check before you make an appointment. It’s much easier to bring your baby in for the sore throat, your ten year old for the eye infection and you for that funny looking rash than for making separate appointments. Just remember to make three appointments at the same time. No doctor (or waiting patient) likes to be surprised by seeing three for the time of one (ten minutes).
- Do you have existing medical conditions that require expertise? If you have diabetes or a heart condition, it may behoove you to make a specialist your primary care physician, meaning you see them more than the GP for medications and referrals.
- Is the branch have a full time medical secretary (מזכירה רפואית) ? More than your physician, the medical secretary will be your most important asset in the kupah. She will either help you get the information you need (referrals, obligations for payment (התחייבות) or she can give you a blank look. Make sure there is someone available, with you can have a conversation, at least several times a week.
- Will you feel comfortable discussing your medical problems with this person? He may be a very nice man, but if the doctor is your husband’s learning partner, you may want to choose a different option.