Well, I think I am. But what should we define as "great"? Critical to the doctor patient interaction is a sense of trust. You as the patient should like my bedside manner and feel comfortable with my taking care of you. But what about my competence as a kidney doctor? That question becomes harder to answer. Organizations such as CHI Health have put in standards that all its providers must follow. That way you know that regardless of the doctor, for certain conditions, you will be treated similarly across the entire system. However, medicine does have an "art" component as well as a diagnostic component that is not easily covered by protocols.
One way to check my competency is to see if I am board-certified in both internal medicine and nephrology (nephrology is the study of kidney disease, high blood pressure, kidney stones, transplant, and critical care medicine). Here's how you can tell my board status: visit the American Board of Internal Medicine web site.
In the lower left-hand corner there is a box that allows you to verify a physicians certification status. Let's use me as an example. Type in my first and last name (Michael Aaronson) and press go. It looks like there are two choices. I'm the second one down with active board certification status in both internal medicine and nephrology. Let's look a little bit closer. It appears that I need to recertify in internal medicine pretty soon because that certificate will expire this year. The good news is that I'm planning to take the test soon and feel ready. Assuming I pass, I'll be certified in internal medicine for 10 more years and will have two more years to prepare for my kidney boards.
I strongly believe in education and lifelong learning. Medicine changes at a rapid clip. The way things were done 5, 6, 7 years ago are done very differently today. I feel that in order to be a great specialist, I need to have a broad knowledge of general internal medicine. So I can treat you in the setting of how other family practice doctors, generalists and specialists practice their trade.
So, my recommendation is to use tools available to you to help you find what you're looking for in a physician.
I've got approximately 1500 flash study cards to go through, so I have to run. Wish me luck!