Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires life-long care and monitoring--but most of all, change. Your daily routine will involve monitoring your blood glucose, taking diabetes medication such as insulin, increasing physical activity, and adjusting your diet. Finding a doctor who is right for you is essential to how well you manage your diabetes and your long-term health.

1. Choose a doctor who specializes in diabetes care.

The first step in finding a doctor who is right for you is checking out the credentials. Your doctor should be board certified in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism. He should be knowledgeable about the latest research, medications, diabetes complications, tools, and dietary and lifestyle changes that can improve your disease.

If you live in Arizona or Texas, you should look into the DiabetesAmerica® Health Care Centers. You can also find diabetes heath centers that are affiliated with universities, such as the University of Washington and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Find out if there's one in your area.

2. Find a primary care physician.

If you're unable to find a diabetes specialist, at the very least you should have a primary-care doctor. Although this can be challenging because of the limited number of primary care physicians in the country, you can work around this.

A study of more than 155,500 adults in the Massachusetts General Hospital primary-care network revealed that patients who went to group medical practices and saw the same primary-care physician received better care than those who weren't connected to a specific doctor. Patients with diabetes who saw the same doctor were more likely to get A1C and cholesterol tests than those who saw different doctors.

The researchers recommend sticking with one physician at a group practice, rather than switching for the sake of convenience. Take the same approach if you usually visit a convenience care or health clinic.

3. Your doctor should respect your knowledge.

After you've lived with diabetes for a while you'll become extremely educated about your condition. As you're the one living with the disease, your opinions about your care and treatment matter. If your doctor is inflexible in his views or dismissive of your concerns, you should look for another doctor. A doctor that is right for you brings a wealth of medical knowledge about diabetes, but is also sensitive to your individual situation, concerns, and health choices.

4. Choose a doctor that listens.

One of the main complaints patients--not just diabetes patients - have about their doctors is that they do not listen. Doctors themselves report feeling they don't have enough time to spend with their patients, which may be partly to blame for the poor listening.

A doctor who is right for you listens and treats you as an individual, not just another diabetes patient. You should be able to discuss anything from medication side effects you're experiencing, to problems controlling your blood glucose levels, or diabetes complications such as tingling in your extremities, or water retention. When your doctor listens the results are fewer mistakes, misdiagnoses, and medication errors.

To make the most of the time you and your doctor have at each visit, plan to focus on one to three issues and try not to ramble on. Write them down to help you remember. Listen carefully, ask questions, and take notes if you have to.

5. Consider your doctor's availability.

The frequency of visits to your doctor will depend on how well your diabetes is under control, and whether you're experiencing any other health problems. If your diabetes isn't under control, you'll need to visits your doctor more often, so availability is a crucial factor.

In general, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends seeing your doctor every three months to get your A1C levels tested and to discuss any needed changes to your care routine. They also recommend having your weight, blood pressure and feet tested at every doctor's visit.

Once a year you should have a complete physical. The physician should test your blood lipids, kidneys, eyes and feet, and review your meal plan. At this time you should also see a diabetes educator for any updates on your disease.

Your physician is your best ally in managing your diabetes. Use these tips to find a doctor that is right for you.