Most people, including physicians, rely on personal references to find a good doctor. But what do you do when you’re far from home, or you don’t know anyone with firsthand knowledge of local doctors? My parents recently asked me to recommend a physician for them in a state where I knew none of my colleagues personally. This is the 10-step process that I used to help them navigate their way to an excellent specialist — I hope it helps others you find the right doctor as well!

1. Determine what kind of doctor you need. You’d be surprised how many different specialists treat the same symptom — depending on its underlying cause. Take “back pain” for example — should you see a primary care phy...

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