In the last few weeks, we unfortunately have had the opportunity to find a doctor here, both for the kids and for myself. Isabel had strep throat, and I am back to my quest for a third baby. Finding a new doctor can be hard, but as much as we’ve moved, I feel like I have it down. Here are some tips I’ve gathered over the last few years for finding doctors in a town you barely know.
Ask Friends Don’t let the fact that you arrived last week keep you from asking around. Even strangers can be helpful. Recently, I was at a meet the parents function for Isabel’s class, and I asked lots of people I had just met about their favorite dentist, pediatrician, gynecologist, etc. If someone said they had IVF, I asked where they went and how they liked the practice, even though I hadn’t known them for more than five minutes. People are happy to help out, and if you are in an expat community they all had to go through this at some point.
Ask a Forum If you don’t find any friends who have needed a ENT doctor, for example, go online! Search the archives of popular expat forums, and if you can’t find the answer, post a question yourself. They can be an invaluable resource. I knew I had the right fertiity doctor when not only was the doctor I visited mentioned by the classmate’s mom, but he was also named repeatedly on the expat forums.
Ask the School Nurse I spent an hour with our kids school nurse due to food allergy issues with one of the kids, and the school nurse printed out a list of the most popular pediatricians and allergists with the other kids at school.
Read Local Papers and Magazine Often local magazines and papers will have feature articles on doctors in the area. It is also a common place for doctors to run ads. Once you find a lead, use the above three resources to research those doctors in particular.
Doctor Referral Services You can also contact local doctor referral services. 800-DENTIST back in the States comes to mind with this one.
Ask Other Doctors I have done this in the past, too. If you find a specialist in one area that you like, but need a specialist in another area, ask the doctor that you like. Chances are they have a friend or colleague they can recommend.
Ask the Receptionist If you need a doctor in a pinch, call a practice you see in an ad or a local clinic you pass frequently and ask the receptionist who you should see. They can be surprisingly candid if you ask the right way. For example, “Which doctor in your office do most patients want to see?” or “Which doctor do the patients seem to really like?” can lead to some surprisingly open responses and help you make your decision.