Choosing a pediatrician is one of the most important decisions you make regarding your child’s well-being. When entrusting your child’s health to a pediatrician, you are bound to have concerns about whether you are picking the right practice or doctor. Here are five questions to ask when choosing a pediatrician. Although not exhaustive, this list points you in the right direction when it comes to selecting a doctor or practice for your child.
What are the pediatrician’s views on parenting, medicine and treatment? This includes breastfeeding, circumcision, putting baby to sleep, co-sleeping, weaning, vaccination and administering antibiotics for common ailments. Is she open to other views? How long has she been in practice and what influences her views the most?
How easy is it to get an appointment with the doctor? If there is more than one doctor at the practice, will you get to choose your preferred pediatrician every time? Will the doctor be available on certain days or at certain hours to answer questions over the phone? Does he return phone calls himself? Does the doctor accept and answer email questions? Does the doctor offer after-hours or weekend appointments?
Which hospital is the doctor affiliated with? How does the doctor or practice respond to emergencies–does the doctor who is on call pay a visit or can you request that your child’s doctor be present? Is the doctor affiliated with any other institution or research organization? What is her specific area of interest or study?
Does the doctor volunteer information or encourage questions during the visit? Does he perform developmental tests or rely on parents’ observations and answers? Is he open to answering your concerns and participating in discussions regarding aspects of child development such as discipline, language, social behavior and sleep problems? Does he expect directions to be followed? Does he provide additional reading material and point you to helpful resources?
How much does the doctor charge for each type of visit? How often does the doctor schedule well-child visits, what is the duration of each visit and what kinds of tests are performed at each visit? How much does the practice charge for phone consultations? How does the doctor’s office handle billing, payments, lab expenses and insurance claims?