Doctors are licensed health professionals who maintain and restore human health by performing medical exams, diagnosing illnesses or injuries, and advising patients on how to manage their disease or injury. They often work in healthcare facilities, including hospitals and private practices. The career path to becoming a doctor is long and demanding, with the average physician spending 11 to 16 years in education and training. People who choose to become doctors must have excellent analytical and problem-solving skills and a strong desire to help others.
The first step in finding a good doctor is to make a list of qualities you care about. This might include whether you prefer a male or female doctor, evening office hours, hospital affiliation, and language spoken. You can also use online physician-rating sites to find out basic information, such as insurance accepted, board certification status and years in practice. However, it’s important to remember that these ratings are not based on evidence.
It’s also wise to ask your friends and family for recommendations, but keep in mind that their opinions are subjective and can be influenced by many factors, such as how well they get along with the doctor. Once you have a list of possible candidates, narrow it down by checking out the doctor’s website or calling his office. Look for a physician who is affiliated with a hospital or medical center, which may be able to provide you with additional resources such as an on-call nurse or support services for patients with chronic conditions.
You should also consider how the doctor interacts with you during your initial visit. For example, does the doctor make eye contact and listen to your questions without interrupting? Does he or she clearly explain your diagnosis and treatment plan, and set up a date for your follow-up visit? Also consider the doctor’s office hours — do they accommodate your schedule?
A primary care physician, such as a pediatrician or family practitioner, treats a wide range of ailments and typically sees patients for routine wellness visits. A specialist, on the other hand, has extra training in a particular area of medicine and focuses on treating specific medical conditions.
Some doctors participate in medical research, contributing to advancements in patient care. It’s also a good idea to find out whether your doctor is in good standing with the state medical licensing agency. You can do this by visiting the Administrators in Medicine website, which provides information about disciplinary actions and criminal charges filed against physicians in many states.
After you’ve found a doctor that meets your criteria, don’t be afraid to switch if you’re not happy. You’ll be visiting this person regularly, perhaps for years, so it’s important to feel comfortable. And remember, even great doctors have bad days!