Do you like your pediatrician?
With so many things to consider, it’s not always a simple question.
If you’re anything like me, you probably have a ton of questions to ask a pediatrician the first time you meet and don’t want them to get annoyed. In our search, I asked all my co-workers for recommendations, my wife asked her friends, we searched reviews online, even stopped in to a few offices. It kinda felt like we were interviewing someone for a job.
In the end, we chose wisely. We couldn’t be happier which takes the stress out of taking my son to his appointments. Dads are playing a much more active role in health care visits with their kids which means finding someone who is convenient and fits with the whole family is becoming more important.
We considered doctors nearby, at facilities near hospitals, even the pediatrician’s office I went to as a kid. In the end, we chose a doctor who came highly recommended and fit our personalities perfectly. She never makes us feel like we’re taking up too much time and always sits and throughly answers all the questions of two overly cautious first time parents.
So if you’re on the hunt, have you ever thought about how doctors choose doctors?
We partnered with Kaiser Permanente for an “insiders” look at what considerations many of their doctors have when choosing pediatricians. Here’s what they shared.
- Location, location, location: Choose a pediatrician near home, advises Hector DeLeon, M.D., a Kaiser Permanente pediatrician in Fort Collins, Colorado. You might not mind driving 30 minutes for baby’s first doctor’s visit, but after a few months, let alone years, of well-child visits, vaccinations, and looking for parking, you’ll value having a pediatrician nearby. Seeing a pediatrician in your neighborhood also makes it easier to snap up last-minute appointments when there are cancellations or drop-in hours.
- To click or call? Parenting can require a lot of hand holding, especially in the early days. With so much new technology available today, the question is how you’d like to stay connected to your chief-mommy-adviser: email, text, telephone visits, face-to-face visits? Some tech-savvy doctors even use video conferencing and social media. Find a pediatric office that will communicate with you in a style that fits your family’s needs, says Kate Land, M.D., a Kaiser Permanente Vacaville pediatrician. Keep in mind that in some cases it might be an advice nurse or someone else from your busy pediatrician’s office responding, but having your preferred communication style figured out is an important step to choosing a pediatrician you’ll click with and stick with.
- Look for a pediatrician who offers drop-in appointments. “Pediatrics is a same-day business,” says Robert Riewerts, M.D., chief of pediatrics for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California. His practice sees patients the same day if parents call before 3 p.m. Parents don’t want to wait to see the doctor if their child is experiencing problems, he says. He also suggests asking pediatricians where they have admitting privileges so you know where your child might be hospitalized on the rare chance he or she needs it.
- Look for a practice that builds community. Dr. Riewerts suggests asking pediatrician offices about parenting classes, online chat groups, blogs, and other ways they might create opportunities for you to network with other parents. The age-old adage, “it takes a village,” is spot on. Most parents want to socialize with other parents, even if it’s to simply trade pediatrician stories.
- Customize your doctor. Pediatricians often have special areas of interest, says Audrey Hall, M.D., a Kaiser Permanente pediatrician in Colorado Springs. If you and your child have special needs, there’s a good chance there is a pediatrician out there who is a perfect fit. Some physicians see a high number of international adoptees, for example, or offer other areas of specialty care. These doctors will not only be more adept at connecting with you and your child, but they will likely be more aware of resources and support groups in your area. Look on providers’ websites for this information and check your local support group’s website, listserv or Facebook page for recommendations.
- MD or NP? Nurse practitioners play a major role in most primary care settings today, and many people are just as happy seeing a nurse practitioner for most visits as they are a doctor. Margaret Stone, M.D., chief of pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills, says that because of their specialized training and communication skills, these health care professionals can be better suited for healthy-baby and well-child visits than doctors, whose training is more disease oriented. Nonetheless, parents should know what to expect. Ask your pediatrician how many patients are on his or her panel, and if your child is more likely to see the doc or someone else in the office.
- Consider your caretakers. Anaheim-based pediatrician and mother of two, Daisy Dodd, M.D., speaks English, but her mom and nanny — her kids’ main caretakers – do not. She chose a pediatrician who speaks Spanish and can communicate with her mom and nanny because they are the ones often taking the children to the doctor’s office. Sharing similar cultural sensitivities to upbringing and childrearing with your pediatrician can also help, Dr. Dodd says.
- To wait or not to wait? Nobody likes to be kept waiting, but some people don’t mind an extra few minutes in reception if they can have a relaxed chat with their pediatrician later. Other people never want to be kept waiting and want a super-efficient doctor who takes care of business. “Both are totally legitimate practice styles,” says Dr. Stone. Both kinds of doctors attract loyal followings. Beyond the initial criteria of male or female, young and hip, or wise and seasoned, think about which of these styles meets your needs, she says.
- Listen to your children. Lisa Whitesides, M.D., of Denver Colorado says makes sure the good rapport you share with your pediatrician extends to your family. She looks for someone who takes the time to explain things to older kids and draw them into the conversation. “This is really critical with teens,” she says. And when children hit the teenage years, they should be allowed to pick their own doctors.
- Don’t be afraid to switch. Kate Land, M.D. suggests starting with recommendations from friends and family, but, she says, be aware that successful relationships between parents and pediatricians depend on many interpersonal dynamics that will be unique to you. The pediatrician to your BFF’s brood, might not be the best personal fit for you. If that’s the case, says Dr. Land, don’t be shy about switching — even if it is within the same pediatric practice or office. “I work in an office with 10 pediatricians, and we don’t mind when patients change doctors,” she says. “We all have different communication styles and personalities, so when patients choose someone else, we don’t take it personally.”
What traits did you use to pick your pediatrician? Share with us below!