Excellent piece! A few key takeaways that I agree with:·
-We are all basically responsible for our own health·
-Everything we consume (food, drink, medications) either has a positive or negative effect on our health· -Long-term habits like smoking, excessive alcohol etc. will have deleterious effects on our health no matter how smart our practioners are.
Now that said, in my opinion there are some general guidelines to optimizing your healthcare that all physicians know that are not generally discussed or available to the public.
In terms of selecting your healthcare practioner, it is important to note the curve you presented in the article and the fact that the selection process for med or vet school pretty much ensures that you get the top performers (top 20%) of college graduates in your entering class. Once you consider how smart and dedicated you have to be just to be selected is where your comparison to astronauts comes in.
If you want to go further and select the smartest folks in the med school class there is the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor society. These are the top 20% of all medical school students. Most MD’s and DO’s who have been inducted into this prestigious society list it on the CV on their web sites. Residents and fellows are also eligible for induction. You can search membership online at https://alphaomegaalpha.org
In addition to this consideration, most physicians are selecting their doctors also based on the residency and fellowship programs they attended. Medical students must pass boards to be accepted into a residency-training program. Interestingly those with the highest scores have been traditionally competing and getting into the top residency programs for neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery and plastic surgery (now dermatology). You can find the top programs in the US News magazine, which is publishes its yearly summary in each specialty. Once they have successfully completed a residency program of anywhere from 3-9 years many go on to fellowship training in a subspecialty like interventional cardiology, pediatric pulmonology, hand surgery for instance. Naturally the top fellowship programs select their candidates from the top residency programs.
Doing a little research on where your doctor went to medical school, residency and if applicable fellowship could be some of the most important research you can do. In addition, even the best surgeon can have poor results if the staff and support system at their institution is not up to the task. So looking at the ratings of your hospital is another key indicator.
I hope I’ve shed a little light on this issue and provided some general guidance for those of us here in the states looking to up our healthcare game.