How to Choose a Doctor
Finding the Right Doctor
"What do you call a person that graduated in the lower 50% of medical school?"
How to Find a Doctor
Choosing a primary care physician or PCP is not easy to do. Searching by nearest general practitioner or family doctor is a good place to start, but you may also be limited by your insurance company.
Insurance companies have business relations with doctors and group practices and will not reimburse you for seeing a physician that is not approved and on their list of participating doctors. Therefore, your first step will be to call your insurance company and get a list of approved clinics and physicians.
After finding a nearby physician on the list, check with your state's medical board to find out if he or she holds a current license and does not have any complaints or sanctions registered with the board. Good doctors may get an occasional complaint and that is not a reason to suspect that they are bad doctors. Examine the complaint and see if you can tell if it has merit.
Finish your qualification search by finding out what medical school the doctor graduated from. If at all possible, find out what the doctor's graduating rank was. A dedicated and proficient doctor will have graduated in the top 50% of the class. Your chosen physician may have graduated with honors.
Another good place to check during your initial search for a doctor is HealthGrades.com. Here you can look up doctors, dentists, hospitals and specialists that you have been referred to. I searched for my doctor and found that she had an 86% patient satisfaction rate and one action on her license requiring her to complete some advanced training. I knew about the incident and despite this incident I still consider her to be my PCP.
The last and final step is to meet with the doctor and find out if you are comfortable with the doctor's personality. The doctor must be compatible with your idea of a good doctor. You should be able to trust your doctor with your life, so be sure you are comfortable talking to and listening to your best health friend.
How to Choose a Medical Specialist
A primary care physician may also be a specialist in general areas of medicine. Internal medicine is considered an all around medical specialty from which to choose a PCP.
Internal Medicine physicians choose to treat patients from the inside out. They specialize in what is going on inside the body that causes disease and illness. People with certain pre-existing conditions will want to start with an internal medicine doctor as a general physician.
As a body becomes more and more susceptible to aging and other diseases, your internal medicine PCP may refer you to other medical specialists for further treatment and consultation while still remaining on your side as PCP. They will follow and monitor your health for life if need be.
Choosing a Doctor for Your Condition
Treating a medical condition that requires a true board certified specialist will require a new search on how to find a doctor. Each doctor you see should be evaluated by the same criteria as in the initial search. Call you insurance company, find a specialist in your area and then check his or her credentials.
Cardiologist specialize in treating heart disease. If you have a heart attack, the first doctor to see you will be a cardiologist. A cardiologist may not be a heart surgeon, but a heart surgeon should be a cardiologist first.
Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome:
These doctors are sometimes referred to as Endocrinologists, which is a fancy way of saying that they deal with metabolic and hormonal issues. The principal condition that they treat is Diabetes (both types), Thyroid disease and the endocrine system.
Gastroenterology or Gastrologist:
Gastroenterologists focus on the digestive system. When your upset tummy is not just from eating a disagreeable food, you may need to see this specialist. They treat ulcers, lactose intolerance and colitis among other alimentary ailments.
Getting old is a fact of life and a geriatric doctor specializes in issues of the aging body. There are new developments in the field of cognitive therapy and drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease and other debilitating effects of aging.
Nephrologists and Urologists:
These two types of specialists are frequently confused. A nephrologist treats diseases of the kidneys and does kidney dialysis and transplants. A urologist treats kidney stones, bladder problems and sometimes prostate problems. A urologist will refer a patient to a nephrologist if the situation warrants that call.
Brain tumors and spinal problems may result in the referral to a neurologist. Neuro surgeons are the ones that operate on the brain and brain stem. They also treat conditions like epilepsy and Parkinson's disease.
Bones and joints need lots of care. They are what gives us mobility and the ability to perform everyday tasks and sports activities. A good orthopedic doctor is worth their weight in gold.
Obstetrics and Gynecology:
Delivering babies and caring for women's issues is no small task and therefore require specialists to learn all they can about reproduction, child birth and cancers that affect women only.
Otolaryngotomist or Ear/Nose/Throat Doctors:
These specialists treat diseases and conditions of the ears, nose and throat. All of these areas of the body need special attention to keep them running at their very best. These areas are also the early warning system for other, more serious diseases.
A specialist in pain medicine is trained to treat pain as a disease or legitimate health condition. The sensation of pain is subjective and therefore different for different people. Some people tolerate a great deal of pain, others do not. The trick is to find a treatment that works to alleviate pain without causing additional problems.
Specialists in the treatment of children and childhood diseases. They are the opposite of geriatric physicians.
Psychiatry and Psychology:
Psychiatrists are Medical Doctors and as such treat the physical manifestations of mental illness. Psychologists are generally PhD's that treat behavioral elements of mental health as an adjunct to a psychiatric treatment.
How to Find Alternative Medical Specialists
Are They Licensed?
Varies by state
Stress relief, nervous disorders
Common, easy to treat problems
Varies by state
Diet and Wellness
Varies by state
Varies by state
Addiction to anything
Complicated or Delicate surgery
There are many other specialists and sub specialists in the medical field. Then there are also pseudo doctors that practice alternative medicine and treatments. Almost anyone can hang out a "doctor" sign, so be careful choosing a physician and choose well Follow this advice and be diligent in trusting a health care practitioner. Always check them out!
Finding a Physician
Have you found the perfect doctor?
© 2012 Lela