Do you know if your Botox is given by a nurse practitioner, an aesthetician (illegal!), an OB/GYN, a dermatologist, or plastic surgeon? Does it even matter? It’s easy to get confused when you’re having a procedure. In fact, if you’re confused about who is really a doctor, you’re not the only one. I hear questions like these every day:
- “Do you have to be an MD to apply peels and do laser?” (No.)
- “Is an otolaryngologist really an MD?” (Yes.)
- “Can my cosmetic dentist really do facelift surgery?” (I suppose, if you are willing to let him/her.)
- “Do I need to see an audiologist or an otolaryngologist for my allergies, and which one is really a doctor?” (The ENT is the MD in this case.)
You, too, may be unsure of who’s an MD and who’s not, and why it matters. According to a 2010 Pew Internet and American Life Project, 83% of internet users are searching for medical information on-line and 59% of all US adults have looked on-line for health information. Despite this, there is significant documentation to show that patients are confused about who is providing their health care.
In fact, according to a telephone survey of 852 adults conducted by the Global Strategy Group, 51% of those interviewed believed that it is not “…easy to identify who is a licensed medical doctor and who is not.” For example, only 32% of those surveyed thought an Otolaryngologist is a medical doctor (I am!), yet 33% believed that an audiologist is a medical doctor (she/he is NOT)! Similar confusion surrounded many other areas, including whether podiatrists and psychologists were MDs.
This widespread confusion and public ignorance may well be the result of the managed care companies’ ubiquitous and interchangeable use of the term “provider.” It leads to the public’s mistrust of the medical establishment and inhibits the public’s ability to make informed choices about their healthcare.
Knowing your provider’s background, training, experience, and expertise can help you become more comfortable and certain of your choice of medical expert. You wouldn’t want to end up with a C-section instead of a facelift!
Don’t be shy…if you’re not sure, be sure to ask. Don’t let the healthcare insurers confuse you. Get the right information and be empowered with knowledge!