Having a sick child is always unsettling for any parent. Having a competent, available and pleasant family practice doctor makes life so much easier. How can you choose a good quality pediatrician for your child?
Ask people you know and trust for a referral. Parents with slightly older kids than yours will have already have plenty of experience with family practice doctors and can tell you why they chose the doctor they did.
Reference from your Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN)
During your pregnancy, your Ob/Gyn has been taking care of you and you have developed a good relationship. Ask for a reference for a pediatrician. Ob/Gyns will get a lot of feedback from their patients regarding pediatricians and so should have a good idea whom to refer you to.
If you have contact with other doctors, nurses or other health professionals that you trust, ask them for references for a pediatrician.
Verify a pediatrician's qualifications
You can check to see if a doctor is a qualified pediatrician online. You can check the American Board of Pediatrics database for qualified pediatricians. You can search by name or location from the links on the top left corner.
Why should you interview a pediatrician?
- You want a doctor you can trust to give the best care to your kids
- You want a doctor that is available and you get along with
- You want a doctor that your kids will build a relationship with and trust as they grow older
Who should go to the interview?
In a perfect world, the father and mother should both be there to interview the doctor. If you are divorced and the father/mother is not involved, you could bring along anyone else who may help care for your child when they are sick e.g. relative. If the other parent is involved such as in a co-parenting arrangement, both of you should meet with the doctor. If you cannot interview the doctor together, both of you should meet the pediatrician separately.
When to choose a family practice doctor?
Ideally you should start looking for a pediatrician in your late stages of pregnancy. The pediatrician may well check your baby before you leave the hospital especially if he or she is affiliated with the hospital you have your baby in.
Interviewing a pediatrician
Do not be intimidated. you have every right to interview a doctor and a good doctor will encourage it
Some questions to ask
How many doctors are in the practice?
Is there a separate area for sick children?
How does coverage work outside of normal business hours?
Is the doctor affiliated with a particular hospital?
Ask about billing, insurance etc.
Ask about specific issues you might have e.g. vaccines, fluoride?
After the interview
Write a few notes immediately after the interview while you remember the interview well. Ask yourself how comfortable you felt and trust your gut feeling. Test the office by calling them and see how quickly they answer the phone, how quickly they deal with your issue e.g. making an appointment and how they handle your insurance.
Repeat this process for each doctor on your list then sit down and go over your notes. Prioritize and make your choice. Keep the names of those in second and third place as backups in case you change your mind.