When you move to a new town, you are forced to start over in some ways. For instance, if you’re religious, you have to find a new church home. The epicureans have to find new favorite restaurants. And, those of us who require medical attention have to find a new physician. At present, however, there is a dearth of information available to assist us in making that choice. Those of us who are brave enough to do so just ask around and find out who are co-workers and neighbors recommend. Ultimately, however, it is not until we visit a particular physician that we have any sense of their practice style and whether we like them, trust them, and plan to visit them in the future.
But what about those of us who turn to websites for our information? We might find information that we consider relevant, but again, the actual visit is the make-or-break for most of us. I want to try something out with you. I’m going to describe three different doctors and I want you to think carefully about which one you would consider making an appointment with first.
Doctor A is a 1972 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. She completed her residency in internal medicine at Columbia in 1974 and has practiced full-time since then.
Doctor B is a 1998 graduate of the Medical College of Georgia. He completed a family practice residency at Mercer Hospital in 2000. He worked at a community health center in Atlanta for four years before opening his own private practice.
Doctor C is a 2000 graduate of the University of Nairobi School of Medicine. He completed an internal medicine residency at the University of Edinburgh College of Medicine and practiced medicine in Scotland for 6 years before moving to the United States in 2008. Doctor C is board certified in internal medicine.
Which doctor would you choose? There are a number of factors. You might be inclined to visit Doctor A because she had been in practice the longest. On the contrary, you might prefer Doctor B, who had been practicing for several years, but was young enough to reduce the chances that he was “out of touch” with current trends. You might pick Doctor A because she attended Ivy League schools and avoid Doctors B and C because one went to public schools and the other was trained internationally. But one important thing to note is that only Doctor C is board certified, and that, according to an informative article by Dr. Pauline Chen, is a better indicator of quality than anything else you were provided in the above descriptions. We often gravitate towards those who attended a prestigious medical school and shy away from those who were educated overseas, but the reality is that board certification is one of the best and most readily available indicators of physician quality we have.