One of the most important decisions parents make is which doctor to choose for their child. The child's doctor will have a long relationship with and a lasting impact on your child and your family. It is important to choose a doctor you feel comfortable with — someone you can trust when it comes to your child's health.
Qualifications are Crucial for Child Doctors
Many parents rely on suggestions from friends and family when choosing a pediatrician. While these people can tell you about the physician's personality or the office staff's efficiency, they may not be able to provide you with information about the doctor's medical skills. When choosing a pediatrician, keep the following key points in mind:
- The doctor should be board-certified or board-eligible in pediatrics, and should be on staff at a children's hospital (or work closely with a children's hospital).
- Both board certification and eligibility mean the doctor has completed training at an accredited medical school and residency program.
- Board certification in pediatrics means the doctor has completed a specialized examination in pediatric medicine.
- A pediatrician's privileges to practice at a children's hospital are important. If your child needs to be hospitalized, you want to be sure your doctor can admit him or her to a hospital specializing in children (or work closely with the doctor at the children's hospital that does admit your child.)
Meet Prospective Doctors Face to Face
Interviewing prospective pediatricians in person is a very important step toward making your final selection. The interview is a chance for you to learn as much as possible about the doctor or doctors in the practice and an opportunity to see how comfortable you feel with them.
The Parent's Role and the Pediatrician's Role
The Parent's Role is:
- The greatest and most important role any of us ever plays.
The Pediatrician's Role is:
- To monitor the status of a child's general health and well-being.
- To diagnose and treat minor and moderate illness.
- To guide parents through the child's growth and development.
- To be the family's advocate within the medical system in the event of major illness.
Suggested Interview Questions & Considerations
1. How many doctors are in your group?
2. Has the size of your group changed recently?
3. What are the special interests of the doctors in your group?
4. Do you use nurse practitioners? If so, what is their role?
5. If your office is very busy and my child needs to be seen today, what is your policy? Will I have a primary doctor or do I see whomever is handling sick patients that day?
6. How are calls for advice handled during office hours? During evening and weekend hours? What is your philosophy of providing care via telephone?
7. What are your average waiting times for scheduling a routine visit? To be seen after arrival at the scheduled time?
8. What is your philosophy about breastfeeding? Discipline? Allowing a baby to cry? Medication use? Antibiotic use?
9. How do you handle payment for services?
10. Will you assist me in evaluating doctors recommended by my health plan?
11. Until what age will you continue to see my child?
12. Do you refer only to pediatric specialists?
13. Do all the doctors in your group participate in my insurance company or managed care plan’s provider network?
14. Are you still accepting new patients for my managed care plan?
15. If my plan requires that I select a primary care provider (PCP) to coordinate all of my child’s care, is the doctor designated as a PCP for my managed care plan? (Check with your plan to verify requirements for use of the PCP and, if you are considering changing PCPs, to obtain information on how to make the change with the plan.)