What To Look For When Choosing A Doctor.
The time is now
For first-time parents, the best time to find a doctor for your child is before birth. Your pediatrician will need to come check your baby at the hospital before he or she is discharged.
Start asking family, friends and co-workers -- and even from your own healthcare provider -- for recommendations in your second trimester, and begin calling and interviewing in your third trimester. A typical interview takes 15-20 minutes and is either free or at a nominal cost. If a physician is unwilling or "too busy" to meet with you, take that as a sign that they're not the best candidate to handle your child's care.
Some interview questions are designed as much to give you information
as to help you decide whether you are compatible and comfortable with this
Here are some interview questions to get you started:
- What are the office hours? Do you have evening or Saturday hours?
- If I called for a routine visit right now, how soon could I be seen?
- How much time is allowed for a routine visit?
- Will you or other physicians/nurses in the practice discuss health problems over the phone? Do you charge for such "telephone time?"
- What happens if I have an emergency outside of office hours?
- Are you a member of the health plan I belong to?
- Does my health plan provide you with financial incentives?
- How must I pay for care?
- Will my child see you each time we have an appointment, or will other physicians in the practice see him/her?
- If my child needs hospitalization, which hospital will he/she be admitted to?
- How do you feel about obtaining a second opinion?
- What is your medical training and where did you go to medical school?
- Are you board certified in your specialty?
Questions of philosophy
It's important to have a healthcare provider you feel comfortable with -- after all, this person will be making important decisions about your child. Here are some additional topics you might want to bring up during the interview, focusing on how he or she gels with your philosophy.
- What are your views on breastfeeding?
- When do you recommend starting solid foods?
- Do you recommend circumcision?
- What are your thoughts on vaccinations?
- How often do you prescribe antibiotics?
Overview and assessment
After the interview, it's time to take stock of what you learned. Make some notes and consider a few more topics, including:
- Do you have a compatible philosophy on medical care?
- How do your personalities and styles of handling situations mesh?
- Do you feel comfortable with this person making healthcare decisions for your child?
- How did your child react to the doctor?
- Were the office staff friendly and helpful?
- Was the waiting room and office clean and child-friendly?
- How convenient was the location? Was parking or public transport available?
Also be sure to see To Choosing Your Child's Doctor: Ability, Availability, Affability.