Just as cars are not created equally, and neither are sports shoes there are some rather large differences between sports medicine doctors. The good news is this creates huge amounts of diversity; the bad news is that this can create numerous problems with finding someone who is well qualified to treat sports related injuries and help prevent injuries from occurring. To help you find the best sports doctor to help you meet your needs, use these questions as a guideline when you are interviewing doctors.
You should first ask your doctor how long they have been treating athletes. This should be at least several years if you are looking for experience, do not expect someone with less than 3 years of experience to be very helpful. If you decide to use a doctor new to the field, be aware that they should be cheaper and willing to work closely with you.
It is also wise to ask your doctor if they are currently the official team physician for any teams in your area. If they say yes, ask what teams so that you can contact the coach for a reference. Remember, if the coach does not give a positive reference that is still an excellent opportunity of information. Find out exactly why they do not recommend the doctor you are considering so that you can gather as many facts as possible.
Ask your potential doctor if they are a member of any special organizations such as the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine. Memberships into these groups typically require credentials to be verified in order for acceptance, this helps to keep only the better doctors amongst membership ranks.
You should also ask if your doctor has attended any specialized training courses. Some examples are the American College of Sports Medicine team physician training course as well as the course that is offered by the US Olympic Committee. If they have not attended any special programs this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is worth noting for your own piece of mind.
A very important question that you should ask is what percentage of the practice is pertaining to sports medicine. Unless the doctor is a sports medicine specialist, you should not expect to hear 100% and even if they are a specialist, they are unlikely to really have a 100% level. Most practices are as low as only 30%
Ask if the doctor has any particular specialties. For example, there are doctors who specialize in orthopedic surgery, as well as various other medical fields. If you are just looking for a basic sports medicine doctor then often choosing a family practice or even an internal medicine doctor is the best decision. From the primary doctor that you choose you can receive referrals to other doctors as they become necessary.
Your final consideration should be looking for a doctor that is willing to meet with you before you filling out any paperwork. This means that they should be willing to do an interview, preferably free where you can talk to them for a few minutes to learn about them, their experience, and their practice. Many doctors do this, especially those who are pediatricians. This means that your sports medicine doctor should be willing to have an initial interview as well. Using this to your benefit means you can ask your questions and see how comfortable you are before you actually need their services.
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