Call the doctor's office. Pay attention to the way the office staff treats you; it can shed light on the overall practice style. If you are routinely put on hold for minutes at a time when you call, for example, you may have a tough time reaching the doctor when you have an emergency. When you do talk to the receptionist, ask if patients often wait; if so, inquire about the average waiting time. Before you leave for your appointment, call the doctor's office to make sure they're running on schedule.
Meet face-to-face. If possible, set up a free consultation with any new physician. The relationship between a patient and a physician is extremely personal, so this should be someone you feel you can talk to and trust. And have faith in your instincts—if you don't get a good vibe from the physician, continue your search and find another.
Let the doctor know if she's the only one. Some women only see a gynecologist once or twice a year and not a primary-care physician. But if you don't clue in your gyno, you may not be getting the important screening tests—such as a blood test for cholesterol and blood-pressure readings—that you need.