Whether you’re looking for an endocrinologist in California to be part of your diabetes management team, or seeking a second opinion about thyroid tumor surgery, a background check is definitely important. And while a quick Google search can turn up a lot of information about any doctor, which specific pieces of information should you look out for? Here are the 5 things you should take note of:
1. Status of the endocrinologist’s license.
Like other professional fields, licenses to practice medicine are individually awarded by each state. These licenses have to be renewed every two years in California. Endocrinologists are also required to complete at least 50 continuing medical education (CME) hours before every renewal.
Yet mere possession of a license in a specific state does not indicate competency. A 2013 USA Today news report notes that several malpractice complaints should be filed against an individual doctor before his or her license is revoked. Hence, a more thorough background check is needed.
To check on the status of a physician’s license in California, go to BreEZe, online licensing and enforcement system of the Department of Consumer Affairs. This platform allows you to check the status of the license held by a specific doctor, and whether there are any complaints filed against him or her. It can also list down all the licensed endocrinologists per city or county, and even filter down to specific criteria such as the number of years in the clinical setting and languages spoken.
Since endocrinology is an advanced specialization, a doctor should not just have a license. He or she should be also earning two certifications from the American Board of Internal Medicine: the Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism certifications. Like a license, endocrinologists should earn 100 points from enrolling in the Maintenance of Certification program within 5 years, then re-take the exam within 10 years to remain certified.
3. The medical school he/she came from.
You’d certainly want to avoid an endocrinologist who graduated from a diploma mill. To ensure that the physician you are planning to consult with earned his stripes from a reputable medical program, check out the school directory of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. This lists down the medical schools in the United States and Canada that have been approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
For overseas-trained doctors who are now practicing in the United States, you can check information about their medical school on the World Directory of Medical Schools.
4. Internship, residency, and fellowship.
A good, well-rounded medical education includes significant training time in the right clinical setting—whether for the internship, residency, or fellowship levels. This rings very true for endocrinologists, who may have different areas of expertise or subspecialties as well.
For example, if you need an endocrinologist specializing in thyroid cancers and endocrine tumors, a good option is to look at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. Through its affiliation with the John Wayne Cancer Institute (previously the John Wayne Cancer Clinic at UCLA), the hospital’s endocrinologists are trained in the latest treatments to handle this disease.
As that saying goes, birds of the same feather flock together. A good endocrinologist should be a recognized member of a professional medical organization. These include the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the Endocrine Society, the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, and the American Thyroid Association.