Pediatricians Are Not Created Equal: Weed Out the Bad Ones

Jeanne Sager

PediatricianYou already have your OB/GYN, your doula, and your labor coach lined up. Now for the hard part, Mom.

You have to find a pediatrician. And it's not as easy as opening up the health insurance physician's list and picking the one closest to your house.

They all went to medical school, but just like the OB who sent you into hysterics because he couldn't be bothered to tell you over the phone that your ultrasound was perfectly OK (really, he had to call you in for that? Thanks for the heart palpitations, Doc), not all pediatricians are created equal.

Now that we've terrified you, how about a little help finding the perfect practitioner for your bouncing baby?

1. Schedule an Interview. They're going to get the job of taking care of the person most precious to you for the next 18 years. They can jump through a few hoops.

It may sound like you're going to be creating an adversarial relationship by starting off this way, but this is pretty standard practice. Most pediatricians are prepped for it, and you can make it easier on both parties by coming prepared.

Some of the questions to ask (which apply to moms on both sides of the big issues):

  • What's your line on vaccines?
  • Are you open to homeopathy?
  • Do you feel ear infections should always come with antibiotics?
  • Do you provide formula samples for Moms?
  • How much time do you spend in the room with a typical patient?
  • What's your policy on giving out your cell phone number?
  • What are the options for parents during non-office hours?
  • When I call into the office, do I talk to you or a nurse?
  • Do you separate sick kids from the kids in for well visits in your waiting room?
  • Do you come to my hospital to evaluate the newborns?

2. Ask Other Moms. There's a reason employers ask for references before they hire a new staffer. The doctor can paint herself a saint, but the mom around the corner who can't get her kid in when he's got a raging ear infection knows the truth.

Some of the questions to ask her:

  • How much time does the doc really spend in the room?
  • Who gives the shots -- is it a nurse or a doctor?
  • How does the doctor talk to you: like a mom or a child?
  • Do you have your doctor's cell phone number?
  • Is it hard to get an appointment? What's the wait like when you get there?
  • What are the off-hour options?
  • Does the doctor throw prescriptions at you for every little thing? 
  • Does the doctor throw formula at you? (or) Does the doctor give you a hard time about breastfeeding/not breastfeeding?
  • Does your child like the doctor and/or the office?

What do you plan to ask?

Image via isafmedia/Flickr

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