General Medical Disciplines Department of Medicine

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q. I’ve heard there’s a very long wait to get an appointment at the Stanford clinics. Is that

A. Stanford has long had a system called “advanced access” that allows patients to make appointments on very short notice, including for new patients who need a doctor. For established patients, we can make pre-booked appointments, or same day urgent appointments.   We have made a commitment to keep our availability as flexible and open as possible.

Q. I liked it in the good old days when you always saw the same doctor whenever you came in, sick or well. At SMG can I see the same doctor at every visit?

A. To the fullest extent we can, we try to make this happen.  However, if your primary care physician is out for some reason, we will always provide you with an equally trained colleague to meet your urgent needs, while still coordinating with your primary care physician to assure good continuity.

Q. Once I have a doctor, how long would I need to wait to get a follow-up appointment?

A. Once you are an established patient, your follow-up appointment is decided by both you and your physician. With advanced access, you can get an appointment the day you call.

Q. I work every day. Are there any appointments available on nights or weekends so I don’t
have to miss work?

A. Though we have physician available on call after hours, at the current time, we do not have weekend and evening hours. However, if there is demand for more out of our service, we will be

reviewing this in the future. Tell us what you need. 

Q. My boss is very fussy about taking time away from work. Will I have to wait long for my scheduled visit?

A. We always make every effort to get you in and out in a timely manner. Remember though that you may not just be seeing the doctor.  You might need vaccines with a nurse, laboratory testing or X-rays.  Make sure you give youself a little extra time if other expanded services are necessary.

Q: Is there anything in particular I should bring with me to my first appointment?

A. Bringing any records from previous doctors would be important. Having a list of your medications, allergies and previous treating physicians with you will be helpful. Finally, bringing in your list of concerns is always important.


Q. What happens if I get sick in the middle of the night?  Can I get medical advice by phone during off-hours?

A. Absolutely!  We have an on-call doctor available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  If you have a problem and are worried, we will call you back and advise you at any time of day or night.


Q. I have been generally very healthy but think I should have a doctor. Which of the clinics
of Stanford Hospital and Clinics is the best choice for me?

A. Currently we have two primary care clinics: Stanford Medical Group (SMG) and Stanford Family Medicine (SFM). At SMG, we provide highly qualified internists who take care of all adults with both simple and complex medical problems.  At SFM, we provide highly qualified family medicine physician who care for patient of all ages, from infants to seniors.  Both are excellent choices.

Q. I looked over the list of doctors. They’re all very impressive but one or two looked really
right for me. Can I choose my own doctor?

A. Yes!  We want you to feel comfortable with your physician.  Continuity of care with a primary care physician is founded on the idea that you have a good relationship and feel comportable with your doctor, so that you can rely on them to discuss all aspect of your medical needs openly.

Q. If I am hospitalized, who will take care of me?

A. In general, you will be cared for by a team of doctors especially trained to take care of sick patients in the Stanford Hospital. The in-patient team consists of an experienced attending physician and a group of residents and medical students.  Even though the team won’t usually include your doctor, we all work in the same medical group at Stanford. Your team of doctors will communicate with your primary care doctors at SMG. They will know as soon as you are admitted, and talk to the doctors in the Hospital.  There is a shared medical record. When it is possible, your SMG doctor will visit you in the Hospital to ensure the best possible transitional care back to the clinic.

Q. My friend goes to Stanford and sees one of the residents. She loves the time and attention from this doctor but I’m not sure its right for me. Does every patient have to see a resident or a medical student first?

A. The kind of general internist you want is a matter of personal taste.  For some people who have more time and more problems, a resident, always backed up by a faculty attending, may be perfect.  He or she can really explore issues in great detail because he has fewer other patients. But of course, the residents typically leave after three years! For others a full-time faculty doctor is ideal.   He or she usually has more personal experience and is almost always in clinic.  Of course like you, other faculty doctors are busy and must be strategic about time.  But whatever choice you make we believe you will love the care at SMG.


Here at Stanford, our patients have a wonderful relationship with our doctors


Q. Is the doctor-patient relationship different at Stanford Hospital and Clinics compared to other Bay Area hospitals?

A. Yes, we like to think we are leaders in patient-focused care. We take the time to listen to their concerns and address any questions they may have. We treat all our patients fairly and we create long-lasting relationships with them and expect we will!




Q. My English is not very good. Can I get care in my own language?

A. Stanford offers care in many different languages as many of our physicians are bilingual if not, multi-lingual. Also, we have interpreters for many different languages which include: Spanish, Russian and Mandarin. If you’d like an interpreter for other spoken languages, this may be pre-scheduled 48 hours in advance. Please visit the Patient Services website for more information.


Q. I have a lot of complicated problems for which I am seeing a heart doctor, an
endocrinologist and a kidney specialist already. How will a General Medical Disciplines doctor help me?

A. As a doctor who knows about every aspect of adult medicine, a general internist is trained to look at the big picture, and helps you coordinate care with your other specialists. In addition, when an urgent issue arises the general internist can see you and can provide the most appropriate care, taking your chronic and past medical problems into consideration. Given the kinds of patients at Stanford we care for every day make us particularly well trained to treat and coordinate even the most complex patients.

Q. Why do I need a primary care doctor if I am getting care from a good specialist already?

A. Once upon a time internists and family doctors took care of all adults health problems unless they needed surgery or obstetric care.  Then so many specialists developed that people forgot how important it is to have one doctor who has the big picture in mind: you! For the special problems  for which we think one of our specialized colleague can help, we will refer you to the best, but no specialist nowadays can substitute for having your own general internist!


Q. How do I get to the clinic on public transportation?

A. Public transportation is commonly used by our patients. Please click here if you'd like to learn more about the public bus schedule.. Also, please visit Stanford's Marguerite website to learn more about Stanford’s Marguerite shuttle service.

Q. How’s the parking? I hate driving around for an hour just to find a space.

A. Parking at Stanford is ample. There is a parking lot for visitors and patients right next to the main doors of the hospital. The first 45 minutes of parking is free of charge. If you pass the 45 minutes period, parking for up to 6 hours costs $6; more than 6 hours and up to 24 hours will be $12. Please visit the Stanford Hospital and Clinics website for more information on parking and directions.


Q. If I have never been a patient at Stanford before, do I need some kind of a referral?

A. No, you do not need a referral. We are happy to see all patients including those who have never been seen at Stanford.


Q. Will I be able to get copies of my test results?

A. Always.  We have s state-of –the-art electronic medical record that will allow us to mail your results or provide them on-line, through a secured personal access, for you to see confidentially.

Q. I’ve heard it cost money if I want to e-mail my doctor or get lab results on e-mail. Is this true?

A. Not at all. Our secure email service , MyHealth, is free and every patient who feels comfortable using the internet is encouraged to use it! We know some other doctors and clinics in the area charge for this service, but at SMG we try never to put obstacles between you and your doctor!

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