- A change of residence is the main reason for choosing a new family physician. Patients entering a new clinic need to choose a new family physician. To explore the factors influencing new patients' choice of physician. This study examined the importance of the physician's demographic and personal characteristics, the knowledge patients have of their physician and compared these factors between new immigrants, up to five years in Israel, and veteran residents. The study population was comprised of a random sample of new patients registered in two family medicine clinics in Beer Sheba, in the two years prior to the commencement of the study. The patients were interviewed by phone using a structured questionnaire in Hebrew or Russian. A total of 166 patients participated in the study. Only 45% of the new patients fulfilled their right to choose their new family physician. About two thirds of the patients consulted either their relatives or the clinic's staff in choosing their family physician. About 78% were satisfied with their family physician. Professionalism and patience were the most important qualities noted by patients as important characteristics of their family physician. Eighty percent of the patients knew their family physician's full name and half knew his country of birth. Only a few knew that their physician performs surgical procedures, treats psychological problems and provides personal or family crisis intervention. Unlike the new immigrants, veteran residents were more aware of the comprehensive approach of the family physician. Veteran residents considered professionalism, patience and availability to be more important qualities in a family physician. These findings were statistically significant. In comparison, new immigrants noted speaking their mother language and mannerisms as being more important. The majority of patients are satisfied with their family physician, however, more efforts should be made to educate the public, especially new immigrants, in the wide range of medical problems that can be consulted and treated by the family physician in Israel.