How do I go to the doctor?
January 27, 2014 8:28 AM   Subscribe

I am in Washington DC, not feeling well and would like to see a doctor. The problem: I don't have a doctor. How do I go about getting one?

I'm in my early 20s. For the past several years, I haven't had a primary care physician and have gone in to my pediatric office when I had an issue. I would call them and they would give me an appointment - same-day only - with whichever doctor in their practice was available. This system works perfect for me but I'm an adult and I should really see an adult doctor.

Is there anything like this for adults around here? If not, what's the next best thing? I can take Metro anywhere but don't have a car. Is this something my insurance (Carefirst BCBS) can help with? Any other advice on how to see a doctor like a grownup?
posted by capricorn to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Go to and use their "Find a provider" portlet, in the middle of the page. You should be able to filter the results by type of doctor, distance from you, and other attributes, such as preferred gender or language. However, since you'll be a new patient, make sure you explain to them that you would like to come in as soon as possible.
posted by ubiquity at 8:33 AM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

For the moment, since you have an acute issue, your best bet is a walk in clinic. There are many available; it's probably best to search for one that does family medicine as well as urgent care so you won't have to pay the (usually higher) urgent care copay.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:33 AM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

In San Francisco, I use One Medical. They have an annual membership fee, but I like their services. They have offices in DC: One Medical.
posted by mamabear at 8:37 AM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've previously gone to the Medics USA clinic either in Columbia Heights or Dupont Circle. They've been pretty good and able to see me on short notice, but make sure they take your insurance (which can be weird -- I have to go to Dupont because a doctor there is on my insurance but the ones in Columbia Heights are not).

Someone there is now the primary care provider listed on my insurance card. I had a physical once and the doctor seemed very knowledgeable and attentive but I've mostly gone when I need a prescription or something weird happens like I lose hearing in one ear.

It was a ton of wax. It was super gross!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:38 AM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

All of the best doctors I've had in my adult life have been found either through recommendations from friends or the provider finder on my health insurance's website (which I then search based on distance and thoroughly google for reviews).

Since you'd like to see a doctor now and you'll be going to a doctor you don't have an existing relationship with, your best bet is going to be to call very first thing in the morning (find out what their hours are and call a half hour before the place even opens) explaining that you're very ill*, need to see a doctor as a new patient, and will take any appointment they have. First thing in the morning puts you at the top of the list for any cancellations they have that day. This means you have to be flexible, but if you want a chance of getting an appointment within 48 hours, that's how you do it.

*I don't know what variety of not feeling well you are, but in my experience, the magic words to see a doctor immediately are "I have had diarrhea for 4 days."
posted by phunniemee at 8:39 AM on January 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

In terms of finding a primary care physician, you could always ask the pediatric office you have been going to. They are used to kids "aging out" of their care, and may have some people they recommend. The link ubiquity provided may be helpful as well.

I have had good luck with calling George Washington University Hospital's "find a doctor" line for recommendations: 1-888-4GW-DOCS. I find it easier to call them rather than using their online tool, as I, like you, need to find people who are Metro accessible.
posted by gudrun at 8:42 AM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, ubiquity! I checked on Carefirst's website and it looks like since I'm on their HMO plan they have already picked out a PCP for me (I don't know why I didn't know this, sorry!) so I guess my next step is to contact that person.
posted by capricorn at 8:43 AM on January 27, 2014

Response by poster: Or I can change that, which I will because they gave me an office I can't get to. And it looks like I can use that directory. Sorry for threadsitting. I am still trying to figure things out.
posted by capricorn at 8:45 AM on January 27, 2014

Best answer: I went to Metro Immediate & Primary Care recently, the Capitol Hill/L Street location. I was happy enough. Definitely be sure they take the HMO plan before you go.
posted by Xalf at 8:51 AM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you call your HMO to change your PCP, the change probably won't go into effect until March 1. If you're sick today you need to forget Carefirst and find a good walk-in clinic.
posted by theodolite at 8:55 AM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you asked your pediatrician for a referral to an adult doc? That would be my first step.
posted by alms at 9:06 AM on January 27, 2014

I've used ZocDoc in the past to set up appointments when I've needed an MD quickly. It lets you put in your insurance info, specialty (PCP is included), and then gives you a list of MDs with appointment times available. (I think I put your insurance info in there correctly ...)

It appears that it has listings in the DC area. I've used it in NYC. I've found that finding an MD can often involve calling lots and lots of offices and being on hold a lot. This has saved me time.

Do be careful to make sure that the MD accepts your insurance; I have had one instance of the database saying that they did but when push came to shove, they didn't.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:38 AM on January 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

For simple issues where a nurse practitioner might suffice, you can always try CVS's Minute Clinic. I've had allergies and ear infections taken care of there quickly and affordably, plus they take insurance.
posted by Dragonness at 9:55 AM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

In the same vein as dragonness, many insurance companies have a 24hr nursing hotline you can call when webMD says you have [insert horrible disease] and you're trying to decide whether it's worth getting checked out by a doctor. The number is often on the back of the insurance card.
posted by Wretch729 at 10:12 AM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding OneMedical, and I can vouch for the DC offices (both of which are near metro stations). I can't always get a same-day appointment but I often can, and once you have a primary care doctor there you can email them. I have the same insurance that you do and it is covered (except for the annual fee, which I find to be well worth it for the convenience).
posted by Latifolia at 10:45 AM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thirding OneMedical. Love them.
posted by Thistledown at 11:29 AM on January 27, 2014

I am also in DC and I also love OneMedical (and hate most other doctors).
posted by aaanastasia at 11:35 AM on January 27, 2014

Best answer: Went to the DC Immediate & Primary Care location in Cleveland Park. Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks all.
posted by capricorn at 3:42 PM on January 27, 2014

I love my One Medical. But if you need to see someone right away for something urgent but probably not terribly serious, I had a really good experience with the Walgreens clinic at 7th and H NW. They have nurse practitioners who can prescribe antibiotics and other meds for low-level illnesses, and they'll also be able to tell you if you need to go to the ER for something more serious. They're closed for the night now, but reopen tomorrow morning at 8, and they take walk-ins all day.
posted by decathecting at 5:34 PM on January 27, 2014

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