Things to Consider When Vetting a Medical Specialist


It goes without saying that, at some point in life, each of us will require the services of a physician. Though it may be caused by injury, illness, or even just for general maintenance, the inevitability of having to interact with a doctor is something that each person must accept and should plan for. When the need for a physician arises, the natural instinct is to find the best one possible. Just as a qualified mechanic is able to properly diagnose and fix a vehicle, a well-qualified doctor serves the same role when it comes to treating patients. The fact that, at times, doctors can literally be holding your life in their hands shines a light on the importance of vetting them to ensure that they are worthy of that responsibility.

When beginning a search for a qualified physician, one should first take into consideration the type of doctor that is needed. There isn’t a blanket set of qualifications that can be applied to every doctor to deem how qualified they are. The criteria applied to a doctor’s worthiness varies by which particular type of medicine they practice. A heart surgeon, for example, would need to have a different skill set than a general practitioner. What makes these two types of doctors qualified is vastly different. To illustrate this point, an examination of different types of doctors will be conducted to identify which qualifications are necessary for each type to make their practice legitimate.

The first group of doctors that will be put under a microscope are general practitioners. These type of physicians serve as most people’s primary doctor. They perform checkups along with treating most common illnesses and injuries. They also focus on preventive measures for their patients. When injuries or illnesses escalate beyond their scope, they aid their patients by referring them to a specialist. General practitioners should have a four-year bachelor’s degree, as well as, a Doctor of Medicine degree after an additional four years of study listed among their credentials. They should also have at least three years of residency to get hands-on specific training. When searching for a good general practitioner, questions related to these qualifications will help to vet their legitimacy.

Second up we discuss specialists helping those suffering from substance abuse problems. Ranging from certified therapists to traditional doctors, these professionals should be working in or associated with a JCAHO certified rehab facility recognized for its effective efforts to help those struggling with substance abuse. More specific licensing and certification vary by state, but the joint-commission stamp of approval goes a long way in guaranteeing such specialists are good at what they do.

The next group of doctors to be discussed are those who practice physical medicine and rehabilitation. Rehabilitation physicians have a very demanding job and must have a mind that is prone to critical thinking. They are responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of patients suffering from temporary or permanent physical injuries and conditions. The interventions that they carry out also involve overseeing any pain management regime and tracking its effectiveness. In addition, rehab doctors also diagnose and treat performance injuries like the ones found in athletes. When contrasted with a general practitioner, the level of knowledge required to do the job is far greater. As such, the qualifications are greater as well. The educational journey to becoming a rehabilitation doctor is very difficult.

The educational background of a rehab physician will include four years each of undergraduate and medical school followed by up to eight years of residency and or internship. When considering a rehab doctor, those who hold a doctorate or Ph.D. should be at the top of the list, as this level of education is typical of a type of physician. Also, depending on what type of rehab is required, patients should also look for medical certifications in specializations, such as neuromuscular medicine and pain medicine.

The last group of doctors that should be examined are surgeons. Like rehabilitation physicians, surgeons require a significant number of years of study before they are ready and qualified to perform surgeries alone. This includes four years of undergraduate study and four years of medical school. Medical school leads to earning a Doctor of Medicine degree which, along with becoming licensed to practice, is necessary to begin a residency in whichever specialization is chosen. Residency, by itself, can last from three to five years.

For those who wish to make sure that their surgeon is legitimately qualified to operate on them, there are three things to check for. The first is to check if the surgeon is board certified. This medical certification stems from the American Board of Medical Specialties which assures that the surgeon who holds it is highly qualified. Another inquiry should be made to see if the surgeon is a member of the Fellowship of the American College of Surgeons. This group can attest to the surgeon’s proficiency and ethics. The third thing to check when vetting a surgeon is to make sure that the facility that he performs surgeries in is accredited. This is an indication that the facility, and the surgeon by extension, are dedicated to providing the best care.

A bonus tip for spotting a worthy surgeon (or any specialist for that matter): one who practices what he or she preaches and lives a life complete with exercise and good diet.

Each category of physician discussed have awards that they issue to members from year to year. They are often given to reward a lifetime of work or community outreach, rather than specifics of performing their duties. As such, rewards you been seen as a plus but should not be among the top criteria when considering a physician.

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