What to Look for in a Pediatrician

The doctor you choose for your child will likely see them from infancy to young adult.  That person will know their medical history, gauge their physical and emotional development, be there for the small and not-so-small milestones.  You will call on your pediatrician for the common ills and bruises your child will pass through, and he or she will be there for the more serious moments.  This is a person you will depend on, a person you will trust, with the most important people in your life – your kids.  Thus, choosing wisely is an imperative.

Here is a list of five basic things a parent should consider when evaluating a pediatrician they are considering to oversee the care of their child:

Is the front office accommodating?

Front office staff are the gatekeepers for doctors.  Is the staff pleasant?  Do they make it easy to schedule an appointment?  Will they hear you when you call and say it is important that you get your child in to see the doctor.  From the moment you make that first call to schedule an interview with the doctor, the think of the staff as an integral part of the team, and assess them as such.

Does the doctor take his or her time with you, or do you feel rushed?

Yes, doctors are busy people.  And you need to be respectful of their time.  But when the doctor is with you, his or her attention should be on you as it will be on your child.  If the doctor rushes you, chances are he will rush with your child.

Are you conformable asking questions?

Make sure that the doctor pays attention to your questions and doesn’t appear distracted. And more importantly, make sure he does not downplay or trivialize your concerns.  Doctors who do so are too ego-driven to be good doctors.

What is her bedside manner like?

A good bedside manner is always a plus in a pediatrician. It provides a sense of confidence in you and comfort for your child. Does the doctor smile?  Does he interact well?  Does she seem patient? If your child is old enough, when you go for your interview, try to bring your child with you to watch how the physician interacts with the child.

Will the doctor work with you and consider your opinions on matters that are important to you?

Rigidity has no place in the parent-pediatrician relationship.  A good pediatrician realizes and respects that when a parent expresses concerns, it is usually for a good reason. For example, today, a topic of concern and discussion among parents relates to the use of vaccines. Ask your pediatrician what he recommends regarding the use of vaccines. Ask your pediatrician if he would be amenable to splitting up the number of vaccines to be given on any one day. I usually tell my parents that it’s no problem at all to split up the number of shots given to a child. As long as they reschedule a follow-up appointment in an appropriate amount of time.

The pediatrician you choose should be someone with whom you are totally comfortable entrusting the well-being of your child.  Take the time to make sure your doctor is just such a person.

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