Shopping for a Pediatrician
Step 2: Do the Footwork to Find a Pediatrician
During her eighth month of pregnancy, Lilybell Nakamura wanted to find a pediatrician she felt comfortable with, who was accessible for checkups and emergency visits. So the 29-year-old human resources professional made appointments to talk with several doctors.
"I sat in the waiting room, and kept my eyes and ears open," Nakamura says, taking note of kids' reactions upon seeing the doctor. When she met with the doctors, she asked them about their experience and tried to get to know them. Ultimately, she chose a practice with four well-qualified pediatricians, with one always on call.
Nakamura's strategy of meeting face-to-face with practitioners is one the AAP recommends. The organization suggests that parents draft a list of questions before an interview. These may include:
- What is your pediatric background?
- Do you have a subspecialty or area of pediatric interest? If so, what is it?
- How do I reach you after hours or during an emergency?
- To what hospital do you admit patients?
- If I have a minor question, when is the best time to call?
- If I cannot speak with you, who will handle my questions?
- Is there anything you would like to know about my family?
It is also a good idea to ask how many doctors are in the office, if your child will be able to see the same practitioner for well and for sick visits, and how long routine appointments are, says A. Todd Davis, MD, FAAP, professor of pediatrics at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He says some people like to ask about the doctor's age, if they prefer to have their children grow up with the same practitioner.
Step 3: Assess Your Feelings About a Pediatrician
The bond between the parent and pediatrician is a critical one. A doctor may be well-qualified, but experts say if a parent doesn't have confidence in the physician, it may affect the welfare of the child.
"In that case, it's better for both parties to move on," says Itkin. He remarks that it's OK for parents to look for doctors that match their styles. "We all have our own personalities."
Lynette Ursal realized this after she switched pediatricians for her 2-year-old daughter. Although she had never doubted the former doctor's credentials, she felt irritated every time that practitioner gave her advice. "It was the way she talked to me; I didn't like it, like I was a little girl who didn't know what I was doing," Ursal explains.
The 25-year-old mother says she is happy with her daughter's new pediatrician and feels comfortable with that doctor's recommendations.