DEAR DR. GOTT: What education does a primary doctor have and what does he or she have for an education to be certified? Today, if I want to know anything about myself, I have to go to a hospital or specialist. Why is this? It’s very costly for me. I’m going on 89, and in my past life, my doctor could give me all the answers and help I needed. Things are expensive and scary.
DEAR READER: Your question is an excellent one. I hope I can do it justice.
A minimum of 25 years is required before a person can be qualified as a practicing physician. That includes 12 years of grammar school, four years of college, four years of medical school, one-year internship during which he/she is attending lectures and conferences, taking the United States Medical Licensing Examination and finally, a four- to six-year residency program in the U.S. This is a long-winded way of saying your former physician was well qualified to handle your case in a “one-stop shopping center.”
Medicine as we know it today is not what it was several years ago. To begin with, we relied extensively on a patient’s verbal history, performed a hands-on examination of the body part in question, and did everything possible to bring relief as quickly as possible. We had state-of-the-art equipment for the time and used it whenever necessary. However, today, we have extremely sophisticated tools, access to superb specialists in almost every field and often demand a second opinion. Why? So we won’t get sued! Sadly, our country has turned into a sue-first, talk-later society. If your primary-care physician is uncertain of a diagnosis or what to do next, he or she will do exactly what yours is attempting – share the burden of responsibility. And it’s an arduous, long and expensive process.
Speak with your physician about your concerns . At almost 89, you deserve to have your wishes honored if possible. Just be levelheaded so that if a medical situation truly calls for a specialist or hospital, you follow the advice of your doctor.
To provide related information, I am sending you a copy of my health report, “Choosing a Physician.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a check or money order for $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092.