Is Your Doctor Good Enough for You?

A doctor who watches her weight will give your better advice about yours.A doctor who watches her weight will give your better advice about yours.You know the old saying, "Physician, heal thyself." It's true. According to a recent study, if your doctor takes good care of herself, she'll take better care of you.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health polled 500 primary-care physicians and found that doctors with a normal body mass index (BMI) were more likely than chubby physicians to diagnose overweight patients as obese and much likelier to counsel them on diet and exercise. Normal-weight docs also reported greater success when it came to helping patients lose weight.

How well do you know your body? Take this quiz to find out.

But a healthy weight is just one hallmark of a good physician. Here are some tips to gauge whether your doctor is the best -- or find a new one.

Use social media. Employers check out prospective employees on social media all the time. You can do the same for your physician. Look her up on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest. Check for healthy activities and an interest in health topics. Does she tweet about the latest health headlines? Does she post healthy recipes on Pinterest?

Got high cholesterol? Ask your doc these 7 questions.

Interview the front-office staff. They can tell you a lot about the doctor -- everything from where he did his residency and currently has hospital privileges to how long he has been board-certified (should be at least 3 years). "Only choose someone board certified with admitting privileges at a major medical center," says RealAge cofounder Michael F. Roizen, M.D.

Check those credentials. Your doctor should be listed in a least a couple of physician databases, such as the American Medical Association's DoctorFinder or the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Does the doctor treat patients like you? Ask the office manager what types of patients the doctor typically sees. Listen for descriptions of people who are your age and/or have similar health concerns.

Painful joints? Use this doctor visit guide for better treatment.

How's the doctor's bedside manner? Does she take time to listen to you? Do you feel relaxed, not rushed? Are your questions answered in terms you can understand?

Does the doctor ask you the right questions? "If the doc doesn't ask about alcohol, tobacco, physical activity, diet, or stress, consider that a red flag," says Roizen. But if the doctor does ask about these, you know she advocates a healthy lifestyle.

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