Choosing a Physician in Your Host Country

Frank Gillingham, MD

Establishing a comfortable relationship for each family member with a qualified primary physician is a step every expatriate should take before arrival in their host country, if possible. Assignees who do so will avoid significant worry and stress, and possibly treatment delay or medical complication—when a bronchitis, ear infection, or more serious illness occurs.

After selecting a physician, the expatriate should arrange an introductory appointment as soon as possible, before they become engrossed in the day to day challenges of life abroad. A physician in Brazil explains why this visit is so important:

"The newcomers should go to the doctor upon arrival, before they have any illness, to become acquainted with the doctor and acquire confidence when judgment is not impaired by pain, fever or despair."—General Practice Physician, São Paulo.

If the visit is a success, the expat should leave the doctor a copy of their medical records. Otherwise, the expat should select a new physician and begin the process again (see below).

"Choosing a physician for each family member can be time consuming, but when illness strikes the payoff is enormous."

This is what you should ask during the introductory appointment: