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Four things to consider when looking for a doctor

Whether you’re new to the area or looking to make a healthy change in your life, finding a new doctor is an important decision. But how do you narrow down your options and feel confident you’re making the choice that’s right for you?

“When it comes to finding a doctor, there are several questions to ask yourself,” says Maury Regional Medical Group Chief Medical Officer Christopher P. Turner, M.D. “The first step is deciding what type of doctor you need: a primary care provider or a specialist.”

Primary care providers are your primary health resource. They are responsible for treating most of your everyday health care needs — including wellness visits and physicals, chronic disease management, annual flu shots and other vaccines, medication refills and the treatment of illnesses like cold, flu, strep and others. They will also refer you to specialists as needed and provide guidance on when to pursue preventive screenings at different stages of your life.

A specialist is a medical provider who has advanced training in a specific medical specialty to treat or manage specific conditions. In most cases, your primary care provider can refer you to a specialist for additional care based on the symptoms you are experiencing.

“Essentially, a primary care provider is your health care hub and will assist you with your overall health needs,” Dr. Turner says. “Meanwhile, a specialist will help you manage your health in relation to their specified areas. Your primary care provider and specialist(s) will communicate with one another and play vital roles on your overall health care team.”

Once you’ve determined the type of doctor you’re currently looking for, it’s time to conduct a search of providers in your area. This can be started by using search engines like Google (e.g., “urology doctor near me”). It’s important to note that the most current and accurate information about a provider will be available on their official website.

As you search, consider the following factors and do your research:

  • Location and hours. Is their office convenient to your workplace or home? Are their hours compatible with your schedule? Does the provider offer options such as telehealth?
  • Insurance. Is the provider in your insurance network? Does your insurance plan provide coverage for this particular service?
  • Credentials. Is the provider board-certified in their specialty area?
  • Recommendations from friends and family. These can help to give you an overview of others’ experiences; however, it’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences may vary based on their own unique circumstances.

After you’ve decided on a preferred provider, reach out to the practice to schedule an appointment and ask any additional questions you may have. You can do this by calling the phone number listed for the practice or provider. Some offices — like the primary care practices in the Maury Regional Medical Group network — may also have an online form you can fill out to request an appointment.

“During your first appointment, take the time to get to know your doctor,” Dr. Turner says. “Be certain to ask any questions you have and to give honest answers during your initial meeting and examination.”

For more information about primary care and specialty practices right here in southern Middle Tennessee, visit the “Find a Doctor” tool available at

An official headshot of Dr. VertreesChristopher P. Turner, M.D.,

is a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and pediatrics on the medical staff at Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia. Dr. Turner is the chief medical officer for Maury Regional Medical Group, which serves southern Middle Tennessee with more than 20 locations and 100 providers throughout the region.