Home » Epilepsy Blog » About Epilepsy » 10 Tips to Find a Great Neurologist

10 Tips to Find a Great Neurologist

Help, I Need A Neurologist

The health system is hard enough to navigate. Worrying about how to find a great neurologist when you aren’t even sure if you need one can be pretty daunting.

Then when you add to that the after effects of a seizure and the possibility that you might have epilepsy, now that’s a doozy. So I’m bringing back one of my earliest articles that is still current today.  In it I’ve put together some tips that might help.

I think I had a seizure, what should I do?

Often people will begin their epilepsy journey unsure that what they experienced was even a seizure. Sadly this can go on for a long time. So if you suspect you had a seizure, (assuming you are not bleeding or hurt enough to go to the emergency room) you should reach out to your health care provider to be seen as soon as possible.

It’s possible your doctor may decide to take a wait and see approach or may want to do further testing to determine if the seizure is in fact caused by epilepsy. If you are fairly certain you had a seizure, it is worth determining the cause if possible.

What now?

When your primary care doctor or emergency room doctor determines that a seizure has occurred, you may be referred to a neurologist. Neurologists are specialists who treat diseases of the brain and spinal cord, peripheral nerves and muscles. It is important to remember that almost all neurologists subspecialize (focus) in some area or disease state. In other words, not every neurologist is the ideal fit to take on patients with epilepsy.

Whenever epilepsy is a concern whether it is a primary diagnosis or a secondary diagnosis, it is appropriate to involve an epileptologist. Epileptologists are neurologists that specialize in epilepsy. However this option is not always locally available. So I have put together a series of steps below that will help guide you through the process of selecting a doctor that will hopefully be a good fit.

How do I find a good neurologist?

There are several steps to take to find a great neurologist (or epileptologist):

  1. Find out whether or not you need a referral from your primary care provider. If you do, keep this in mind while searching for your new doctor.
  2. If you have health insurance do your best to look for a neurologist that is IN NETWORK as this will be a less expensive option.
  3. Take a look at the doctor’s profile before you book the appointment.
  4. Remember that neurologists tend to sub-specialize in a particular area of the brain, or disease state, to properly focus their patient base or research. When reviewing the doctor’s profile pay close attention to their “Area of Focus”
  5. Figure out what you want out of this new doctor. It can be helpful to make a list, physical or mental. Compiling your  “must have” qualities is essential before moving on to the next step.
    • Do you prefer if the person is a man or a woman?
    • Young or old
    • Academic researcher or private practice
    • Would you like the head of a department or a long time clinician?
    • Someone who tells you the hard truths or makes you comfortable?
  6. Check out the Top Doctors in your area. This is a good starting place to learn who has a long track record of success in the area. This is not super reliable as health systems will pay to get their docs on this list but it’s not a terrible place to start.
  7. If you don’t have health insurance, then find out what options are available to you.
  8. If you do have health insurance, go to the insurance company’s website. Most will have a “Find a Doctor” section. Typing in the name of the doctor you want to see will quickly show you whether the doctor is in the network or not.
  9. Call and make an appointment! The longer you wait the harder it will be to get an appointment.
  10. After you make the appointment you may have to go back to your primary care provider for a referral. Be sure to ask for a referral for multiple visits to save yourself the hassle of having to get a new referral each time.

How do I fire my doctor?

For future reference, there may (and probably will) be a time when you need to cut ties with your current doctor. This may seem as daunting as a task as finding the doctor, but don’t worry. To know if it is time to find a new doctor you need to:

  • listen to your instincts.
  • Make sure your doctor is meeting your needs — not his/her needs

When firing your doctor, don’t play games, simply tell them that you “will be looking for another doctor and that his staff can expect a call from requesting records.”

Or if the doctor is part of a group you don’t even need to have the conversation, just ask the administration team to assign you to someone else in the group.


Follow Jessica K. Smith:


Founder and CEO Jessica brings a unique perspective to this leading epilepsy blog as she was diagnosed with epilepsy as a teen. She also brings 20+ years experience in marketing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.