As a physician I am often asked by my patients, how do you know if a physician is good, or they will say, I have been to a number of physicians before I found one that I liked or that cares about me. As a medical consumer it is very difficult to know who is qualified, who will take the time to listen to your problems and who will make the right diagnosis and provide the correct treatment.
Finding a good physician or the right physician is not easy. It will take some time and effort on your part but will be well worth your time and effort when the right doctor has been identified. You will need to find a physician that you can trust. However, feeling comfortable with a doctor isn’t enough. There are several other critical elements that must be taken into consideration before making that important decision. Here are some helpful tips for finding a qualified physician.
Word of mouth is a very effective way to find a suitable physician. The vast majority of my practice has been built on patient-to-patient referrals. Asking family and friends whom they see for general or specialty medical care is a very valuable method. Get recommendations, from sources you can trust. If family and friends can willingly recommend physicians they have visited, call those physicians’ offices to find out if they will accept new patients. Then schedule a first-time patient evaluation to become familiar with the physicians style and range of services. If you do not care for his or her manner, start looking again. Other potential sources for Doctor referrals are your local hospital referral service, or simply look at your health plan physician directory. Most importantly, find out if your doctor is board certified. Board certification is absolutely critical. Without it, you won’t know if the physician has had proper training in that field of specialty. This is important because in this country, physicians, once licensed, can market they practice a specific specialty – whether or not they’ve had specific training in that specialty.
Check your local yellow pages listing in the telephone book. The telephone book’s yellow pages, or commercial listings, include a section for “Physicians” that breaks down into specialty areas, like “Orthopedics” or “Sports Medicine.” If you cannot find the specific type of listing you are looking for, check for a local city or county medical society or association that may be able to assist you with helpful information.
According to WebMD, a leading source of online medical information, a good doctor should: have credentials (board certification, certificate of added qualification, fellowship training etc), have the background to meet your needs (was or currently is a musician, former athlete stc.), takes steps to prevent illness instead of just treating it, has access to a good hospital, is a participant of your health car plan, encourages you to ask questions, listens to what you say and your concerns, treats you with respect and communicates well. Communication is very important. A good physician should never brush off your questions, no matter how “ridiculous” they may be. Many doctors are busy, but they should take the time to answer all your questions. After your first visit, take some time to evaluate how things went. Your doctor should make you feel comfortable, answer all your questions and under no circumstances make you feel dismissed.
You can also acquire a great deal of information on a potential physician by searching the web. The web can tell you information about each medical practice you are reviewing, including the physicians name, specialties, office hours, insurance information, and other details. You can also go to a search engine and type in the medical specialty you are looking for, along with your state’s name. There are a number of web sites that can be helpful and informative including: American Medical Association’s website at Ama-Assn.org, the website of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), your State Medical Board and your local city or county medical society web sites.
Getting the name of a qualified physician who can help you is not particularly difficult, but it can take time and some effort. The results will be worth the effort spent when you find that physician who you are comfortable with and have confidence in and who can best treat your symptoms with favorable outcomes.