Determining a Doctor’s Qualifications

Question

What questions should I ask to find out about a prospective doctor’s qualifications?

Dr. Greene's Answer

Determining a physician’s qualifications is fairly simple. If a doctor does not meet your standards, you can easily eliminate him or her as a candidate and move on. Here are some questions you can ask that will help you determine her or his qualifications:

  • Where did he or she complete undergraduate school?
  • Did she or he receive honors?
  • What medical school did he or she attend?
  • Where did she or he complete Residency?
  • Did he or she serve as a Chief Resident? (If so, he or she was the top of the class and judged to be good with people.)
  • Is she or he Board Certified? (All physicians are licensed, but not all are certified.)
  • What is he or she doing to continue training? (The AMA gives a “Physician’s Recognition Award” to those in practice who actively pursue continuing education.)

 

While many excellent doctors didn’t complete their educations at top-ranked schools, finding out their stories is worthwhile. You may want to ask each one why he or she chose a particular medical school and a particular field of medicine. Probe about the methods used to stay current with rapidly expanding medical knowledge. How she or he handles these questions will give you a lot of information.

In addition to looking at a doctor’s qualifications, consider finding a doctor that you trust. Find a doctor whose style and mannerisms appeal to you; a doctor who you feel is listening to you and understands you.

Last medical review on: May 14, 2008
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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