The good doctor
My husband’s work insurance is changing, and if there’s anything less fun than floundering in an alphabet soup of HMOs, PPO and PCPs, it’s finding out that our pediatrician isn’t on the list of providers. After a minor panic attack (seriously, we love our doc) and a morning spent on the phone with the insurance company and the doctor’s office, the problem seems to be solved. (Although with insurance you never know.) But the close call got me to thinking about what I’d do if I had to look for a new pediatrician, and I came up with four W’s that I’ve used as a guide in the past:
When researching new doctors, their Web site can give you a good idea what their practice is like. Our doctor’s site is super helpful: bios on all the doctors, nurse practitioners and staffers; patient forms that can be printed out in advance of visits; numbers and office hours; and news on recalls and other health issues. There’s even a monthly e-newsletter. The thorough, informative site gave me a good first impression of the practice.
WORD OF MOUTH
Of course, there’s only so much you can glean from the computer. References and the opinions of friends can clue you in to what the doctor’s office is really like. Are calls returned promptly? Do staff and doctors take time with each patient, or rush them through appointments? Is there a good selection of toys in the waiting room to distract little ones (and are those distractions necessary because it takes forever to get called back to an exam room)?
But even if all your friends rave about a pediatrician, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s the one for you. Our first doctor was recommended by a friend, and while she was nice enough, the care was just … kind of blah. In fact, it was so hard to get an appointment with her that about half the time we saw someone else in the practice instead. Your pediatrician is your partner in taking the best care possible of your little one, and you need someone you feel comfortable with. Can you ask questions and not feel patronized or rushed along? Does the doctor listen to your concerns? Do they show respect and kindness when talking to your child?
In the end, we chose our doctor because we believed we could entrust her with our children’s health and well being. She puts a premium on preventive care, and ensures that kids get proper exercise and nutrition. She (and every doctor in the practice) calls the day after appointments to follow up and see how the kids are doing. And when I left a phone message today to talk about our insurance dilemma, she called back literally within five minutes. And when she told me she could still be our doctor, it was another W: wonderful.
What do you look for in a pediatrician? if you have a good one, what do you like about them? And if you’ve had a bad experience, what has that taught you?