Every year, 883.7 million physician visits take place throughout the United States. Are you getting ready to schedule a trip to the doctor’s office?
If it’s been a while since you saw a doctor, you might be unsure of how to find the right person to help you with your medical issues. This is where knowing how to look up doctor credentials comes in handy.
Read on to learn some tips that will help you verify your doctor’s credentials before you go see them. You’ll also learn some other key factors to consider when trying to find a new doctor.
Essential Doctor Credentials
Let’s start with the basics. When you’re researching a particular doctor, you’ll notice some letters that appear after their name. These letters are abbreviations that help you figure out what kind of doctor they are and what kind of training they’ve received.
The following are some of the most common abbreviations:
- MD: Short for Doctor of Medicine
- DO: Short for Doctor of Osteopathy (this is equivalent to an MD)
- MBBS, MB, Ch.B., B.Ch, B.Chir: All are short for Bachelor of medicine or Bachelor of surgery (this is an international medical degree that’s equivalent to an MD)
When you go to schedule an appointment at a particular clinic, you may also get paired with someone who has the letters PA or NP after their name. These abbreviations are short for Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner, respectively.
In many places, PAs and NPs are also recognized and primary care providers. They can provide basic care similar to doctors, and they can write prescriptions for patients.
How to Check a Doctor’s Credentials
A good first step is to understand what the different abbreviations for medical professionals mean. The road doesn’t end here, though.
You also should know how to check a doctor or other professional’s credentials. This helps you ensure everything is up to date and that they’re a competent care provider for you.
The easiest way to verify a doctor’s credentials is to look them up using the Federation of State Medical Boards website. Through this website, you can learn a lot about the doctor you’re thinking about working with, including the following:
Whether They’re Licensed
One of the most important things to take into account is whether the doctor you’re considering is licensed to practice medicine in your state. Through your search, you’ll be able to determine if this is the case. You’ll also be able to find out in which other states, if any, a particular doctor is licensed to practice.
Whether They’re Board-Certified
On their websites, many doctors claim to be board-certified in specific types of medicine. These certifications aren’t always legitimate, though. It’s a good idea to check and find out what board-certifications your doctor has and make sure they’re not practicing outside of their scope.
Where They Went to Medical School
You can also learn through this website where your doctor went to medical school. Great doctors come out of all kinds of schools, so the place where they received their education shouldn’t be the determining factor when you’re choosing a doctor. At the same time, though, if you find that they’re lying about where they obtained their medical education, that’s an obvious red flag.
Actions Taken Against Them
Perhaps most importantly, you can also use the Federation of State Medical Boards website to find out if a doctor has had any specific disciplinary actions taken against them. This could be related to malpractice, a bad attitude with patients, or a myriad of other issues. If you find that a particular doctor has been disciplined in the past, do some digging to find out why and see what actions were taken.
Bonus Tips for Finding a Good Doctor
Learning these facts about a particular doctor is a great first step when it comes to determining if they’re a good fit for you. You don’t want to see anyone who’s license is not up to date or who has had disciplinary actions taken against them, do you?
There are other factors to consider when looking for a good doctor, though. Before you schedule an appointment with a specific person, ask yourself the following questions:
Do They Accept My Insurance?
Start by making sure that the doctor you’re interested in working with accepts your insurance. Contact their office or your insurance provider to verify before you go ahead and try to meet with them.
How Are My Calls Received?
Place a cold call to the office and see how you’re received. Is the receptionist polite and professional? Do they answer your questions right away, or are you left on hold for several minutes before you can talk to an actual human?
Doing this helps you see how you’ll be treated when you arrive for your appointment. If you receive poor treatment over the phone, that can be a sign that this isn’t the right doctor’s office for you.
Is It Easy to Schedule an Appointment?
Can you schedule an appointment quickly with this doctor? Do they offer online scheduling or other tools that simplify the process?
What Do Their Reviews Say?
Finally, this healthcare provider resource recommends doing some additional research to see what kinds of reviews are out there for the doctor you’re considering seeing. Are people generally happy with the care they receive? Do they recommend this doctor to others?
Start Searching for a New Doctor Today
Now that you understand the basic doctor credentials every physician ought to have, be sure to watch for them when you begin searching for a new doctor. Don’t forget about the other tips listed above, either. They’ll help you ensure you find a doctor who’s qualified to treat you and is someone you can get along with and feel comfortable confiding in.