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"It doesn't matter to me if she went to Harvard Medical School," says Alice Chuang, MD. "What matters is what she knows now: Docs practicing at universities or academic hospitals are usually very up-to-date on new studies."2. Proper certification -- and a clean record
"I want to know that my doctor has a reasonably good reputation. She should be licensed by the state she's in and board-certified, information that's available online," notes Christina Catlett, MD, an ER physician in Baltimore. "You can also check your doctor's malpractice history by contacting your state's medical board."3. Strong communication skills
"I want a physician who's comfortable saying that she doesn't know something and who sends me copies of my test results when I ask," says Marie Savard, MD. The ability to listen -- without interrupting -- is even more important to Dr. Catlett: "You have to be able to tell your doctor everything."4. Healthy habits
"They should practice what they preach -- a dermatologist who's tan, for instance, would throw me off," says Dr. Savard. Also key: hygiene. "Don't be afraid to ask your doctor if he's scrubbed up right before seeing you," says Sandra Fryhofer, MD.5. A helpful staff
"My old internist was great, but I switched to another because his office was a zoo and the support staff was inefficient, so I waited too long for appointments," says Vicki Porges, MD, a New York City pediatrician.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July 2008.