“What makes a doctor qualified? How do you know if it will be a good fit?”
When I started in private practice in 2013, I replaced another doctor. I already had a panel of patients and as a result, rarely take new patients. Recently, a few local doctors announced their retirement and to help meet the community need, I have been trying to a fit a few new people in. One recent prospective patient had many questions about my education and qualifications. Reflecting on this, I wonder if the emphasis on a physician’s “qualifications” are misdirected. Sure, education is important but I think it is even more important to know what kind of doctor I am. This seems to be the information people really want to know when they are asking this question.
If you really want to know what kind of doctor I am, Google me. Really. Some physicians don’t have much of a digital footprint, but I do. If you are looking for a lasting doctor-patient relationship, this will give you much more of an idea of our compatibility than my CV, the equivalent of a resume for doctors.
For any physician, you can go to the websites for the specialty board that your prospective doctor would be affiliated with. For me, the American Board of Pediatrics and American Board of Internal Medicine both think I’m up to snuff. If you don’t find your physician on there, one caution would be that board certification is a hot issue right now; a few years ago our verifying organizations changed the requirements for continuing education credits, charging thousands of dollars. Also, doctors who trained before a certain year get lifetime certification. Either way, board certification initially corresponds to a passing score on an all day specialty test. Add this to the 3 medical licensing exams all physicians do, and you can trust that we have the knowledge to take care of you.
I love to write and I’m a recovering English major. My articles are like the window into my soul. A Google search will turn up links to my blog, The Pensive Physician and the articles I have written for healthcare blogs such as Doximity and KevinMD. Clicking forward to the next few results pages will show some links to other media. I have been outspoken about the importance of vaccination both through an opinion piece in my local newspaper and news segments. I am not an advocate of supplements, vitamins, essential oils, herbal remedies and naturopathic treatments. If this is something you feel strongly about, I’m probably not the doctor for you. I remain a huge proponent of prevention through healthy diet and exercise and regular sleep and I practice what I preach. It is hard to get through an annual exam without a 24 hour dietary recall and a discussion of your level of physical activity.
Follow me on Twitter. From my tweets, you will glean that I am passionate about primary care and independent private practice. I teach a number of medical students each year in the clinical setting and work hard to recruit more students into primary care. I want to make sure our kids and grandkids have an abundance of smart and compassionate doctors to care for them. I am a fierce advocate of gender equity especially for women in medicine, from the respect we are given, to narrowing the sizeable pay gap and increasing the number of women leaders in healthcare.
And for the stuff you really wanted to know. The bachelor’s degree from Fordham University in a course of honors, admission as a third year student to the national medical honor society, graduating medical school summa cum laude with research honors from SUNY Buffalo, the number of publications I have in my name…You can read it on my website bio but I would argue that it doesn’t really tell you what kind of doctor I am.
How can you know if a doctor is good? Ask the people who see them and the physicians who refer to them. Be cautious of online reviews unless there is a trend. They are often one sided-either penned by people who adore you and are acting president of your fan club, or people who loathe you. Next time you wonder what a physician’s credentials or qualifications are, I think the more important question to ask yourself is: “Who is this physician and what do they care about?” Armed with that knowledge, you can make an informed choice of whether or not they are the right doctor for you.