Doctors Spill Their Secrets to Finding the Best Doctors

Doctors, dentists, and nurses follow these rules when deciding who will take care of their health.

By Reader's Digest Editors
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    Ask hospital employees.

    "Their word trumps an Ivy League degree, prestigious titles, and charm."
    —Marty Makary, MD, author of Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care

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    Choose a doctor who instructs others.

    "I’d look for a doctor who is certified to train other doctors. They are called 'fellowship directors.'"
    —A plastic surgeon

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    When it’s serious, go to a teaching hospital.

    "You’ll get doctors involved with the latest in medicine. Even for simple cases, if there’s a complication that requires an assist device or a heart transplant, some hospitals may not be able to do it. At a university hospital, you also have the advantage of having a resident or physician bedside 24-7, with a surgeon on call always available."
    —Tomas A. Salerno, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

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    Don’t assume your primary care physician knows best.

    "Referrals may be politically motivated or be given because the doctors work within the same multi-specialty group."
    —Howard Luks, MD, chief of sports medicine and arthroscopy at Westchester Medical Center and University Orthopaedics

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    Listen for subtle word clues.

    "We're not going to tell you your doctor is incompetent, but if I say, 'You have the right to a second opinion,' that can be code for 'I don't like your doctor' or 'I don't trust your doctor.'"
    —Linda Bell, RN, clinical practice specialist at the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses in Aliso Viejo, California

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    It sounds trivial, but don't overlook their magazines.

    "When choosing a dentist, check if the magazines in the waiting room are current. That shows attention to detail."
    —Michael Alkon, DMD

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