Finding a Doctor

Often, who you may choose for a doctor is a matter of someone else’s experience, availability of specialty, locality, language or personality.  Just as in the United States, Canada or any other country doctors come in all capacities and personalities.  You have a responsibility to yourself to search out the doctor that suites your needs, personally, emotionally and medically.

Doctors receive a very good education and training in Mexico, increasingly similar to that received by doctors in the United States.  Most doctors will keep up on the current medical practices, and those doctors associated with larger, full service hospitals are required by many of the hospitals, especially those with International Accreditation with the Joint Commission International.

According to Centro Medico International, The Board Certification Process is similar to that in the United States.   “In Mexico, medical school takes between 4-5 years plus 2 years of internship and “social service” practical training. The Secretary of Education issues a “cedula” which authorizes the individual to practice general medicine upon the completion of the social service requirement and having been certified by the educational institution.

“Specialty surgeons complete an additional 4 years of specialization and an additional 2 years to obtain a sub-specialization. Each specialization in Mexico has an accredited college that certifies and recertifies its members every 5 years.
“Titulo y Cedula Professional” – Medical License for General Practice of Medicine
“Titulo y Cedula de Especialidad” – Medical License for Specialty Practice of Medicine
“Certificacion por el Colegio de Especialidad” – Board Certification”

Doctors are not required to maintain your medical records, although this practice is becoming more prevalent.  They may record the results of tests in your file, but generally do not maintain your X-rays or test results.  Nor are doctors required to have an “on-call” doctor in his or her absence.

All doctors are licensed and/or certified for specialized areas of practice and are allowed to practice only within those areas.  Malpractice suits are relatively unknown and should be considered with care and good legal counsel, as the legal processes for such suits are considerably different than those in the U.S. and Canada.

While many doctors speak and understand English, that is not necessarily the best criteria for choosing a doctor.  For your first visit with a doctor, it is advisable to bring someone fluent in Spanish as there are terms and ideas that may not translate well without the aid of a third party.  Once communication levels have been determined, one may be quite comfortable without additional assistance.  However, realize that the doctor’s staff or others you may need to communicate with may not have the same proficiency.

All doctors and hospitals are governed by health and medical protocols as directed by the NORMA Oficial Mexicana or NOM  under the direction of the Secretary of Health.

Select your doctors with care. We suggest the following considerations when selecting your doctors.

  • Ask for an interview before you need the doctor’s services, if possible.  For instance, in looking for a primary care doctor, you might consider two or three who are listed here, and interview each.  The cost you pay for these interviews are a small investment in your overall medical care and confidence.  If you have a condition that requires monitoring, such as heart problems or diabetes, it is wise to establish your doctor/patient relationship before you need his or her care.
  • Ask the questions that pertain to your needs, not those based on someone else’s experience.
  • In talking with a primary care doctor ask who he or she would refer you to for your conditions that may require continued or specialized treatment. And who he or she recommends you call if he or she is unavailable.
  • Ask if he or she keeps records and will forward them to another doctor if necessary.  It is also suggested that you keep good track of your own health history, particularly in Mexico.
  • Most doctors will not accept insurance.  If you have insurance coverage for medical care in Mexico ask for a diagnostic report and receipt to submit to your insurance company.  It will not automatically be given to you.

Updated 10-25-12