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6 Tips for Choosing the Right Doctor

6 Tips for Choosing the Right Doctor

updated

The doctor you choose can have a huge bearing on your health years and even decades of your life. But with so many doctors out there to choose from, how can you possibly single one of them out as the right one? From a distance, you cannot do that. What you can do, however, is judge any doctor you visit by whether he meets certain requirements. Then, by process of elimination, you can ultimately settle on one who you feel comfortable with and who meets your needs. In this article, we will offer some criteria for you to use.

1) What are his educational qualifications?

Most reputable doctors have degrees from medical schools you've heard of. If you haven't heard of the school, you can at least look it up on Google and find that it's an accredited medical program with a good track record. What you need to be wary of are degrees from places that sound like diploma mills or non-existent institutions. While medicine is a highly regulated industry and this is not too widespread anymore, it never hurts to do a little homework on what school your doctor claims to have gone to. Consider this the baseline requirement of a good doctor: it's not the only important one, but without it, the other requirements probably aren't going to be met.

2) Is he focused on prevention or prescribing heavy amounts of medication?

Unethical, immoral doctors take kickbacks from medicine companies if they prescribe their medicine to patients. Good doctors find this unconscionable. Not only will they not try to drug you up as a first course of action, they will encourage you to live a healthier lifestyle. They will advise you to adopt habits that put no money in their pockets. For example, a good doctor will encourage you to quit smoking and eat a healthier diet before pressuring you to get weight loss surgery or take some new, unproven wonder drug.

3) Is he well-known and trusted at the hospital you prefer?

Most of us don't like thinking about what will happen if we become hospitalized, but it's a scenario we need to anticipate. For this reason, you should ensure that your doctor is well-known and trusted at your hospital. This helps ensure that there will be no loss of documentation, complication, or lack of cooperation between your doctor and the hospital staff charged with keeping you alive. If your doctor is not well-known or trusted by the hospital, you will be rolling the dice with your health and hoping they can cooperate in the midst of a heated situation. Clearly, this is not the way you want to go, so don't be afraid to ask your doctor about his ties to local hospitals.

4) Does he encourage you to ask questions?

Few things are worse than a doctor who overwhelms you with medical jargon, never taking the time to translate his advanced training into terms you can understand. In fact, such doctors are often harmful because confused patients do not have the informed consent they need to make crucial medical decisions about their lives. This is obviously not the situation you want to find yourself in, so make sure that it isn't. Make sure the doctor you choose encourages you to ask questions and fully understand your options at each step of the way.

5) Does he listen to you?

A similar problem with bad doctors is that they are not sensitive to their patients' needs and do not listen to them. This, too, is something you want to avoid. It's one thing for your doctor to brush off your concerns about a stomach bug, but what if you need open-heart surgery someday? A cold, distant doctor is the last person you want advising you through these stressful times. To keep this from happening, seek out doctors who are warm, friendly, and want to hear what your concerns are.

6) Is he included in your health plan?

Due to excessive government regulation, most of us cannot afford to buy private health insurance on our own. Most people with health insurance have it through their employer, or a spouse's employer. Therefore, whether the doctor you want is covered by your health plan will become an important factor in whether you can use that doctor. If the doctor you want is not part of your health plan, you have two options. One is asking the provider for a referral to see that doctor, and the other is asking that doctor to recommend another doctor who is covered by the plan.

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