Before you start to see any doctor, you need to find out about their background. You are trusting them with your care and well-being. You don’t want that to be compromised due to them being incompetent or having a checkered professional past. Completing the background check can put your mind at ease. It isn’t difficult to verify their credentials and confirm their level of competency.
When you plan to see a doctor, you have ample time to conduct that background check before you make your appointment. There are situations though where you won’t have that luxury. For example, if you are taken to the local ER you may have to get care immediately. If your regular doctor is unavailable you may have no choice but to see them as they are filling in. It is a good idea to check their background as soon as you can if you weren’t able to do so before seeing that doctor.
To get the ball rolling, you will need to have their location where they practice and their full name. The FSMB (Federation of State Medical Board) website is the best location to get current details. They have a DocInfo function you can click on to begin your search. You will find out plenty of information including their education, where they can actively practice, their certifications, and any actions against them. What does this all mean though?
- Board Certification – Don’t take their word for it that they are board certified, verify that information from an independent resource. This is to confirm they do have the credentials to offer various services, including specialty areas of medicine. They may be board certified in areas beyond what they currently practice too.
- License – A doctor must be approved with a license to practice medicine in a given state or multiple states. They absolutely can’t practice without that documentation. It is simple enough to find out if their license is active in and which states they can legally assist patients.
- Schooling and residency – Where did they complete their education and earn their degree? Where did they complete their residency? This information can be very useful, especially for doctor’s who haven’t been practicing for decades. Understanding their credentials and background for learning can help you to decide if they are someone you feel comfortable seeing for your medical needs.
- Negative Actions – It is important to learn about any disciplinary actions taken against a doctor. Do they have lawsuits against them due to malpractice? You will be able to see basic information here, but it can give you a good starting point for learning more about a given scenario.
How Old is the Doctor?
There are a few reasons why you want to find out how old your doctor is. This isn’t being nosey; it can help you make a good decision about who will care for your medical needs. Such reasons include:
- Retirement – While an older doctor may have plenty of experience, do they plan to retire soon? You don’t want to have to search for another doctor to care for you in the near future. This is especially true if you are being seen by a specialist. You want to find someone you can trust for your long term care needs. It makes it easier to establish a bond and for you to feel comfortable talking to them.
- Experience – Finding a doctor that isn’t going to retire any time soon but still has plenty of experience to offer is encouraging. They have seen quite a bit through their education, residency, and time in practice. They can help you to get your needs met with ease.
- Youth – There are still benefits though of a much younger doctor. Many of them have learned the ropes with the newest equipment and updated research. They are passionate about helping too as they have experienced burn out in this profession.
How Long have they Been in Practice?
You need to look beyond just the age of the doctor though. They don’t all go the same route and enter medical school at the same time. A specialist will have more years involved in the education and residency part too. Find out how long they have been practicing medicine. Find out how long they have been doing so where you reside. You may discovery they changed areas of practice too over the course of their career.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you should be alarmed. They may develop a passion for a certain area of medicine as time goes by. Perhaps they realized there was a shortage of professionals in a certain area and they wanted to help to fill it. In other situations, they may become bored or burned out with what they were doing. Going in a new direction in the medical field allowed them to rejuvenated their mind and body and dive back into it.
However, an interruption could be a red flag, so you certainly want to investigate it further. Did they move to a new state due to being in trouble in other locations? Were they found to be negligent and had to find a location with easier licensing requirements in order to practice medicine again? Do all the digging around you need to in order to rule out or confirm such possibilities.
A doctor must be granted approval to treat patients at area hospitals. If you have a hospital close to you or one you use regularly for your needs, it is vital that you find out if a particular doctor has privileges there. Otherwise, you can still see them as you primary physician, but they will not be able to care for you when you are hospitalized. If you have ongoing health issues, this may be a huge concern for you.
Concerns and Claims
You should take concerns and claims about a doctor seriously. This can include any disciplinary actions they have received and any malpractice lawsuits that have been filed. Find out what other patients have to say about the care they received from them too. All of this can help you to find out what the history of a doctor includes.
When you see a specialist, it is important to confirm they have done plenty of research. It can be encouraging when your doctor has been involved with both research in that field and has been part of materials published regarding it. While it isn’t practical to always find a doctor who has these credentials, it doesn’t hurt to look for them. This shows they are involved in the hands on learning about your particular condition.
You do have to be careful though, are they being paid by drug companies for those services? By medical device companies? If so, such details can influence the type of treatment they will consider for you. They may be obligated to extend what that paid provider offers. They may not always be in your own personal best interest.
Make sure you discuss this with the doctor before you follow any treatment plan. You need to confirm there is no conflict of interest for them. You don’t want to be taking medicine you don’t need or that doesn’t work well for you. You also don’t want to feel pressured to take part in a clinic trial in order to help that doctor further complete their research efforts.
It isn’t hard to do an online check regarding a doctor’s name and medical research. Add keywords such as research or publications to the end of their name in the search engines to see what is found. All of this is going to help you gather information so you can make a well informed decision about the doctor you want to work closely with.
Some doctors are very intelligent, but they don’t have a good bedside manner. Others make you feel very comfortable, they are proactive, and they listen to you. They are friendly and they may make jokes from time to time to help put you at ease. You need to work with a doctor that offers behaviors you are content with. You want to avoid those that are arrogant or they don’t get along with people easily. How they treat their patients as well as other staff matters.
You can find out about their behaviors before you see them by asking friends and family members. There is a good chance you know someone personally or even from work that has gone to that particular doctor. You can also use the internet to find out what people have to say about certain doctors.