Choosing a Primary Care Physician

Q&A With Dr. Daniel Spogen

Dr. Daniel Spogen

Dr. Spogen serves on the board of directors of the American Academy of Family Physicians, which represents 105,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. He currently serves as professor and chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, where he also serves as a faculty professor and director of medical education.

For those considering health care options, choosing a primary health care physician is an important decision. Your primary care physician should be your partner in healthy living — your go-to doctor for everyday health concerns and treatment when you are ill.

What are some of the things you should think about when choosing a primary care physician? Daniel Spogen, M.D., Chair, Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, specializes in patient-centered family medicine and has been a practicing family physician for over 20 years. We asked Dr. Spogen about factors patients should consider when choosing a primary care physician.

Q: What are some of the important things to think about when considering a primary health care provider?
The most important thing is communication. You need a provider you trust and you can talk to. You also need to know that the provider will respond to you in a reasonable time frame. He or she needs to be available when you need them. Feel free to ask the physician who is covering them when they are not around, and do you trust that source as well. Of course, quality of education and experience are also important.
Q: What questions should I ask when choosing a provider?
You need to know what services your provider offers. Ask if they offer hospital medicine, that is, find out if they follow their patients when hospitalized. If not, what arrangement do they have with other providers and will that arrangement work for you? Ask if they have open scheduling so you can be seen the same day or at least soon after the request for an appointment. Do they offer convenient access to other supporting services, like nutrition, mental health and other services that may be especially important to you? Does the electronic medical record have a patient portal that you can access? Where are the labs located and are lab results reported to you in way that is secure and convenient for you?
Q: Is it important to choose a board certified physician? How do I know if my doctor is board certified?
It is very important your physician is board certified. This is easily checked through the Internet and the Nevada State Medical Association. Learn more board certification and why it is important.
Q: Do you have any other tips to help people choose the right primary health care provider?
You need to know this a person has your best interests at heart. That is, you should choose a doctor that has been well trained, communicates well, is empathetic and spends time with patient education and health care prevention. There should be a stress on prevention and resources to make sure that you can adopt a healthy lifestyle.

University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

The primary care physicians at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine are board certified, university-based professionals dedicated to helping patients live healthy and productive lives. Our physicians emphasize preventive health and provide strategies and education to help you make healthy decisions. Our primary care physicians also catch potential health issues and coordinate additional specialized care with other School of Medicine specialists and subspecialists. Learn more about why you should choose the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine for your health care.