The information on this page is designed to help members of the community navigate the health care landscape to meet their needs. Topics covered include choosing a doctor, making the most of appointments, finding health-related information and services, and evaluating health information.

Choosing a doctor can be challenging. If you ask yourself these questions, you will be able to narrow your selection:

  • Do you want a doctor close to your house or close to your office?
  • Would you prefer a male or female doctor?
  • Are you looking for a doctor that speaks a particular language?
  • Does your doctor accept your insurance?
    • Always check with your insurance company to make sure a doctor accepts your insurance coverage before your appointment. The insurance company will even be able to provide you with a list of doctors in your area.
  • Does it matter if the doctor has an MD or DO degree?
    • Learn the difference here:
    • What Kind of Doctor is a DO?
    • Do you want a small practice or a large practice?
    • Do you need a specialist or a more general practitioner?

Useful Websites to Help Find and Vet a Physician

Find an Albany Med Health System doctor
Finding a Doctor (YouTube)
New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct
American Board of Medical Specialties - Is your physician certified?

Preparing for Your Appointment

Preparing for a medical appointment ahead of time can help you and your doctor make the most of the (sometimes brief) time you have together. Some steps you can take:

  • Write down any symptoms you are experiencing, such as
    • how often they happen
    • what time of day they happen, and
    • how bad they are
  • Create a list of questions that you want to ask your doctor. Ask the most important ones first.
  • Gather any test results and information that you need from other doctors.
  • Bring a written copy of your medical history. If known, include information about your immediate family (parents, children, brothers, and sisters).
  • Bring all prescription and over the counter medications you are currently taking (or at least a detailed list that includes name and dose.)
  • Bring the name and location of the pharmacy where you want prescriptions filled.
  • Bring a pen and paper to take notes.
  • Consider bringing a friend, advocate, or family member to help you take notes and ask questions.

Tip: If possible, bring all your medications in their original containers to your appointment. Use a zipped plastic or paper bag to keep them safe. Having them with you will make sure your doctor has the newest information.

For more information:

Communicating honestly and asking questions is important to making the most of your time with your physician. Remember:

  • Bring a list of questions with you.
  • Ask your most important questions first.
  • Be honest, even if you feel embarrassed.
  • If you don’t understand something or your doctor talks too fast, ask him/her to slow down or explain it differently.
  • Talk about your all concerns and don’t be embarrassed.

Tip: Bring a written summary of your concerns and questions. Ask your most important questions first.

For more information:

Before the Doctor Leaves the Room

Review next steps. Questions to consider include:

  • Do you need to schedule a follow-up appointment?
  • Should you call for follow-up or test results?
  • Did the doctor call in any prescriptions? Verify where they were sent.
  • Are you clear on how to take any medications?
  • Are there any good resources or websites available?
  • Ask any lingering questions.


Before You Leave the Office

  • Do you have the best number to contact the office and know the hours?
  • Do they have the correct number for you?
  • Ask for an appointment reminder card with your next appointment clearly written.


There are many websites that provide health information. It’s important that you use information from sites that are from authoritative sources, unbiased, current, and reliable. These questions will help you determine value:

Authority: Who is responsible for the information?

  • Was it written by a doctor, nurse, scientist, or other qualified health care provider?
  • Is it supported by a hospital, medical school, or medical society?
  • Is the responsible person or organization easily identified?
  • Are there references to books, articles, studies or other material that supports the information?

Bias: Is the page trying to sell or promote something?

  • Is the website an ad for a product or person?
  • Is the website trying to make money?
  • Are you asked for a credit card number?
  • Is more than one treatment discussed or is the focus just on one option?
  • Are scare tactics used?
  • Are multiple viewpoints presented?

Currency: Is there newer information available?

  • Can you find a date created or copyright date?
  • When was the information on the page last reviewed or updated?

For more information:

MedlinePlus - Evaluating Health Information

U.S. Food & Drug Administration - Health Information on the Web

National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health - Finding and Evaluating Online Resources

Help from Your Public Library

Visit your Public Library for help in finding quality health information.