What to Look for in a Pediatrician
If you are searching for a pediatrician for your child, you know it can be stressful. I lucked out and found the perfect pediatrician for our family, but if you are in search of a new pediatrician for your family, there are specific things you should look for in a family pediatrician.
- Respect: A good pediatrician respects the parent and child. He or she speaks to the child when they are old enough to understand and addresses all of the parent’s concerns without being dismissive.
- Current: A good pediatrician stays up to date on current American Pediatrics Association recommendations and shares updates with parents. For example, my pediatrician made different recommendations for starting solids for my sons who are four years apart because the APA had changed their recommendations.
- Available: A good pediatrician is available when you need him or her. The office should have an on-call doctor for after-hours and should return calls within a timely manner.
- Thorough: A good pediatrician performs thorough exams even if your child is crying or wiggly. He or she should be comfortable enough with children that she finds solutions to examining terrified kids. My pediatrician has examined my children on my lap when my children were scared to be examined. She has also checked my heart to show my kids that it isn’t scary.
- Conscientious: A good pediatrician doesn’t just focus on the care of the child. He or she is aware of any limitations the family may have. For example, my pediatrician sets aside flu vaccines for my children because she knows our family can’t take live virus vaccines because of my condition.
- Prompt: A good pediatrician runs on schedule so that sick kids aren’t waiting to see their doctor for extended periods. Our pediatrician has a late policy. If you arrive for your appointment more than 15 minutes late, your appointment will be cancelled. While this sounds harsh, I have never ever waited to see my pediatrician in the almost eight years I’ve been with the practice.
- Not Rushed: A good pediatrician spends the proper amount of time with your child and doesn’t rush you or your child through an examination. In order for this to happen, they need a good staff that doesn’t overschedule them and they need to be interested in running an efficient practice.
- Separate Well Visit and Sick Visit Entrances: I never considered this a perk until I learned that so many of my friends’ pediatricians don’t have this feature. I love knowing that when I take my sons for a well-visit, they won’t be sitting next to a highly contagious kid.
- Lots of Exam Rooms: Again, I didn’t consider this a perk until I experienced the benefit of a pediatrician with a lot of exam rooms. What does that mean? It means that we don’t have to sit in the waiting room with other kids, whether they’re sick or well. We immediately get taken into a room where my kids can play with their toys or read a communal book and since my pediatrician is prompt, we are seen quickly.
- Helpful Staff: While I loved my obstetrician, her nurse lost blood tests and forgot to run tests for me more than once in my two pregnancies. Since I loved my doctor and pregnancy isn’t permanent, I let it slide. However, when it comes to my kids, I want an office that is helpful, thorough and competent. For example, when my oldest cut his eyebrows and needed stitches, I called my pediatrician to ask where I should go for stitches. Rather than ship me off to the ER, the front desk called a pediatric plastic surgeon and got us scheduled for the next appointment within an hour. That is the definition of helpful staff.
Clearly, I love my pediatrician and everyone in her office. Since I have my own health issues, I know how important it is to have doctors on your side who share your health values and are competent. With two kids in school and daycare, I spend a lot of time with my pediatrician. I don’t want to hate the experience.