Choosing a Pediatrician

Choosing a pediatrician is one of the most important decisions a parent has to make. There are many factors that should be considered in the decision-making process which can make it seem overwhelming, especially to new parents. Therefore, I thought I would share a few of my thoughts about what I feel is important:

Tour some offices.

The easiest way to get an idea if you will be comfortable with a doctor and his or her office is to tour a few offices. Most offices prefer that you call in advance to give them a "heads up" and many would prefer that you make an appointment. When you call, ask if you can meet with the doctor during your visit. Most offices do not charge for this tour and initial consultation. During your visit with the doctor it is reasonable to ask about his or her philosophy on breastfeeding, circumcision, antibiotic usage, or any other question which you feel is important. This will also give you an opportunity to find out if you have a good rapport with the doctor. I cannot emphasize the important of this enough: you have to feel like you can talk to him/her and that s/he listens to you and answers your questions without making you feel stupid. If you have a question or concern about your child, the likelihood is that someone else has had the same question. The only stupid question is the one that you didn't ask!

Ask around.

Of course the majority of my business comes from "word of mouth" referrals. Most pediatricians (myself included) do a certain amount of advertising but we still prefer when a new patient comes to us because someone else recommended us. Great people to ask for recommendations include your obstetrician, your family, and of course other mothers.

Look at the tangible aspects.

There are many tangible/objective items that should be considered when choosing a pediatrician.

  1. Where is the office? Is it conveniently located to you? Many parents underestimate the importance of this. When your child is sick or needs something if you have to drive a fairly long distance just to get to the doctor's office this can be very frustrating.
  2. What are the office hours? Does the office have Saturday hours?
  3. How long is the wait at the office? Doctors are human. Occasionnaly if there is an emergency or another patient has a problem that requires more attention then they may get behind schedule. However, if a doctor is constantly behind this may be indicative of a larger problem. Regardless of the reason, they should do their best to communicate with you if there will be an extended wait.
  4. How do they handle after hours urgent calls? Do they have a nurse triage service? Is their a doctor on-call at night?
  5. Do they have activities for the kids while you wait? Do they have televisions in the waiting/exam rooms? If you do have to wait, it is nice to have something to keep the kids occupied.

Still under construction...