It was almost ten years ago, but I can clearly remember the process my husband and I went through when we were interviewing pediatricians in preparation for the arrival of our twins. I had no idea what to ask or what to look for — and ultimately we went purely based on gut instinct and whom we most liked.
Although I’m a big believer in mother’s intuition, getting “good vibes” from a doctor doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is the best choice in terms of convenience, cost, or care.
Here are five things to consider before signing on with a doctor, who presumably will be with your child for the remainder of their adolescence — until they depart for college. That’s nearly two decades of vaccinations, colds and flu, stitches, broken bones, and more!
Take the time to ask a lot of detailed questions, and don’t be shy. If you don’t feel right about a doctor for any reason, it’s probably not the perfect fit, so continue to look around.
1. Everyday Care vs. Emergencies. Ask doctors not only how they deal with preventative and regular care, but how they deal with emergencies. Are they available 24/7? What do they consider an “emergency” and which hospitals do they work with?
2. Newcomers vs. Old Timers. Ask how long they’ve been practicing to get a sense of how smoothly their office runs. We ended up going with a young pediatrician who was breaking off from an established medical group to start his own practice – it was risky but he was incredibly organized and ultimately were very happy with our choice. Presumably, a doctor with a longer track record has a more efficient setup which means quicker care, shorter wait times, and more peace of mind. Regardless of how old a practice is, observe how smoothly the office functions, from the front desk people to nurses and administrators.
3. The Doc vs. The Backups. Ask whom your child will see if the primary pediatrician is not available. Fevers, sprains, pink-eye and other maladies pop up that need to be treated immediately and often that means you must see the first available doctor. This is where the size of a practice comes into play — are there 2 partners, 5, or more?
4. Mainstream vs. Alternative Medicine. I live in California where there’s a lot of emphasis on alternative medicine, homeopathy, and natural approaches to wellness. Regardless of your personal beliefs, it’s smart to get a sense of where a doctor stands on incorporating and exploring both Eastern and Western philosophies, mainstream and alternative treatments, and prescription and herbal remedies.
5. Connecting and Communicating. Ask if the doctor is available for phone chats or emails when you have basic concerns or questions — because you’ll have plenty of them! Most pediatricians won’t diagnose without seeing a child, but it’s good to know you can reach out when you need advice, clarification, or reassurance.
For more tips on medical care and coverage for your family, spend some time surfing around American Family Insurance where you’ll find wellness tips and information on comprehensive health coverage.