When my family first moved to our current city, we found ourselves in urgent need of a primary care physician for a sick family member. Needless to say, I wasn't familiar yet with the doctors in our area, so I asked a good friend for a recommendation. Here was our experience.

Doctor 1: Recommended

After calling the office of this doctor, I spent 20 minutes on hold before reaching a live person. The woman who finally answered the phone was fairly abrupt and matter-of-fact with me. Because we were new patients, I was told my sick family member would be required to make a 30-minute “new patient” appointment (as opposed to a regular office visit) before he could be seen for anything else. For that intake appointment, we were asked to show up 30 minutes early to fill out all the new-patient paperwork. At this point, the receptionist checked the intake appointments for the next schedule before informing me that the doctor was fully booked for two days! When I objected, stressing the urgency of the situation, she referred me to the local urgent care clinic. I thanked her and hung up.

Doctor 2: Found Online

I found the second doctor online. On calling his office, I spent about three minutes on hold before I was connected to a very pleasant lady, who was friendly and sympathetic; more important, she acknowledged my sense of urgency. She quickly found time in the schedule when our sick family member could come in—just a few hours later that day. She treated the ...

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