How To Find A Good Physician

Here’s something that no-one wants to talk about: physicians are regular people. We like to put doctors on a pedestal because they are in charge of our health, and we’re like to feel that our health is in the hands of the best, but the best are very few, and it’s improbable that you’ll be assigned even a good doctor on chance alone.

As is the case of most professions, physician quality follows a normal distribution. A few are very bad at their job, some are merely bad, most are average doctors, some are good doctors, and again, a few are very good at what they do. 

Bell Curve
Example of a normal distribution, AKA “Bell Curve”

By merely showing up to the hospital or clinical practice, the law of averages will assign you an average physician. You might like to think it is otherwise, that your doctor is the best, but that is just you being delusional. And average is fine in most situations. You don’t need Hugh Laurie to prescribe you a flu shot or mend a broken arm. 

But if you’re in a situation where something is wrong with you, and you’re not quite sure what it is, average doctors will either not know what’s wrong with you, or will default to the most statistically probable diagnosis. That’s not a great system for health care.

You can identify a good doctor by:

  1. Time spent on your appointment. This is especially relevant on the first appointment, or the first appointment about a new situation. Anything less than 30 minutes is not acceptable. Good physicians will regularly spend a full hour with their patients. They will make thorough examinations and ask a lot of questions.
  2. Ability to answer questions and explain things. A good doctor will tell you the why’s and the systems behind what’s happening. If a physician can’t explain why it’s important that you get a specific blood marker under control, for example, but merely states that you should, that’s a sign that he doesn’t understand what it’s for, he’s just following a cheat sheet with average values. Most doctors will tell you that you should lower your cholesterol, but they are stumped if you ask them what cholesterol does.

To Get The Right Diagnosis, Look For a Third Opinion

People are still not used to asking for a second opinion. Again, they mistakenly believe that they were assigned the best person available. As I pointed out above, this is statistically incorrect. 

Depending on the severity of your situation ( and a good way to judge it is the level of discomfort it causes) or the level of violence of the proposed treatment, you might want to get a second opinion from another doctor.

If the second doctor concurs with the first one, that’s pretty decent. You can probably go ahead with a modicum of safety.

If not, then you need a tie-breaker. Yes, you need a third doctor, a third opinion. I mean, you have little other way of making an educated guess about which of the previous two doctors knows best.

I understand this is very annoying. Doctors are expensive, and appointments are time-consuming. What about people who don’t have the money to go to a private practice?! Yeah, I don’t have a good answer to that. I’m giving you the info because I believe that it’s better to know than to not know, but I realize it’s difficult to act upon.

Good luck!

A Legend of Three Roses

Danilo was wise beyond his years. He had been one of the youngest in the history of his order to be ordained priest, in no small part due to his learnings during extensive travels across the civilized – and not so civilized – regions of Elessia. His former master, a diplomat, had traveled from the mighty Tower, the northernmost fortress in the known world, to the tropical forests in the lost isles of the south, where warriors with skin dark as midnight worshipped colossal trees.

But his master had not, in truth, been a diplomat. His sacred mission was to hunt the supernatural, monsters left behind from a bygone age where magic had ruled the world, magic which had since vanished, ages ago.

As magic dried up from the world, echoes remained – and thanks to the tutelage of his master, Danilo was one of the few people in the world who knew anything about such echoes, beyond whatever fireside tales were passed among the common-folk to scare their children.

When their travels led master and apprentice to the Holy Kingdom of Lohander, Danilo took great interest in the pantheon of the Sun-God and studied it thoroughly, especially where it intertwined with the kingdom’s imperial family. The women born to the family were fated to be priestesses, and each generation, one of them had the doom of being especially blessed by the Sun-God: she would perform a miracle. This miracle would mark her as the next empress, the one bearing the responsibility of selecting the next emperor, by way of marriage.

This, said the men of Lohan, was proof that their god was the One True God. For who could argue against the existence of such a being, when by his grace, a miracle was performed every generation?

But as far as Danilo was concerned, the implications were far more significant than proof of divinity. To him, such tales proved the existence of magic. The beasts his master hunted were but remnants of a bygone age; such miracles, were he to be able to confirm them, would allow him to stand on firm ground and say that magic was still lurking about the land, not wholly depleted. If a chosen child of the imperial bloodline could wield such powers, then what to say of many other, improbable tales?

One such tale, whispered by all in Lohan – but never within earshot of foreigners – was one concerning the Roses.

The Roses. There were always three of them. Three women, raised in monasteries near each of the Holy Kingdom’s borders – North, West, and South. Trained with utmost discipline until such a time when they were called to succeed their predecessors, taking the mantle of Holy Rose of the North, West or South. Three holy champions of the Sun-God, blessed with his power, the power to merge dream and reality, to open a small window into that which might have been, to transpose a portion of it into that which is.

The people of Lohan, as has been told, were not amenable to discussing such matters with foreigners, and soon, other issues took hold of young Danilo’s attention.

His interest in the legend of the Roses faded, the story archived and forgotten in a dusty corner of the repository of wisdom that he was steadily crafting inside his mind.

Until now.

Photo Credit: chiaralily Flickr via Compfight cc