How to Check a Doctor’s Background and Credentials

Choosing the right doctor can be tough. Most patients want a physician with a good bedside manner, and that’s the type of thing you can find out by asking around. But what’s more important is how qualified he or she is to practice medicine. And to find this out, you’ll need to dig a little deeper into their past.

Where to start

To find out anything about your doctor’s history, you’ll need at least a full name and practice location. To begin with, you can do a simple Google search, which will probably turn up some more basic information. You can then use this information to perform more thorough background checks. You need to know several things about your doctor to make an informed decision.

Medical school

Medical school
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The places where doctors attend medical school and do their residencies play a role in the type of training they received. While most medical schools offer exemplary educations, some are ranked low enough to cause concern. However, this factor is usually only applicable to new doctors just starting out. The way they practice medicine will be a direct result of what they’ve learned so far.

Older, more established doctors, on the other hand, probably have enough experience behind them that their alma mater doesn’t make much difference. Besides, the school they attended may have been ranked high when they attended even if it’s considered subpar now.

Board-certified status

Not all doctors are board-certified, and it’s not a requirement to practice. But it does say that he or she demonstrated a particular level of competency in the area of the certification. And it is viewed with high enough importance that about 90 percent of all physicians achieve this status. This may or may not be a deciding factor for you in choosing a doctor, but it’s something to consider.

Complaints

It’s not difficult to find out what people think about a particular doctor, especially in a smaller community. The best place to start is online. You can check out community Facebook forums or just online reviews to see what type of reputation the doctor has. You’ll obviously want to weigh these carefully, because any type of business that’s been around for long will probably have some complaints.

But the most important thing to research is whether the doctor is under investigation for any malpractice cases. Again, most doctors face some  complaints and lawsuits at some point in their careers, but you should gather all the facts. If he or she has faced multiple incidents over the same type of malpractice or continues to be investigated by a medical board, it could be a red flag. And instead of ignoring the information, you should try to piece it together with everything else you know. This way you can make an informed decision about whether seeking their care holds any risk.

Years in practice

A physician’s age may seem irrelevant when looking for a doctor, but it might make a difference for a couple of reasons. Older doctors usually bring a lot more experience. They’ve had years of practice and education that give them an edge in treating patients. They also may relate better to their elderly patients, which can be a key consideration. But on the flip side of that is you can’t be sure how many more years they’ll be practicing. And while this may not matter to you if you’re just being seen once or twice a year, you might think again before establishing care. This is especially true if you have a chronic condition that needs frequent care.

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