Tips for Choosing a Pediatrician
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
The following questions and points to
consider can help guide your selection of a pediatrician:
- What is the provider's educational background? Children's doctors may
have specialized training in pediatrics or family medicine.
Pediatricians have completed specialized training in pediatrics following
graduation from medical school, while family physicians have experience and training in
treating all family members for routine illnesses, preventive medicine, and checkups. Almost all
practicing physicians in the U.S. are board certified, meaning they have
passed a proficiency examination in their field of training. They may be
certified in either pediatrics or family medicine.
- Is the doctor in good standing? A Web site run by
administrators of several state medical licensure boards known as
in Medicine can provide information about disciplinary actions taken or criminal
charges filed against physicians in some states. Individual state medical licensing agencies also have Web sites that will be able to give you more information about how to determine whether a doctor is in good standing in his/her state of practice.
- How do other families feel
about dealing with this pediatrician or practice? Try to talk to several
families who have experience with any pediatrician you are considering.
is the practice located? Does the practice have multiple offices? You may want
to consider your priorities when choosing a practice location. Should the office
be close to home, work, or school? Is it easy to park and enter the office, even
with an ill baby or young child?
- What is the policy of the practice regarding
appointments? Talk to other families who have experience with the practice or
try to speak with families in the waiting room. How long must you wait for an
appointment for routine examinations? Is ample time allocated for same-day
visits in the case of acute illnesses? How long are typical waiting times before
you are seen by a doctor? Some pediatric practices offer walk-in services as well as appointments.
Is this service important to you?
- Is it easy to call the practice? Are your calls
handled promptly and courteously? Does a doctor or nurse return your call
- At which hospital(s) does the doctor have admitting privileges? Do
these hospitals have emergency facilities? Decide whether you would be
comfortable with your child receiving treatment at the hospital(s) where the
doctor practices, should the need arise.
- Will your child always be seen by
the same practitioner? Who covers when he/she is away? Is someone from the
practice always available for night and weekend coverage, or will you be
referred to another practice?
- If your child needs x-rays, laboratory studies,
or other tests, can these generally be done in the same location as the
practice, or must you take your child to a hospital or outside laboratory?
- Does the practice have separate waiting facilities for sick and well children to
help prevent spread of contagious diseases?
- Is the practice a pleasant,
reassuring place for children to be? Does the atmosphere feel welcoming or
frightening to young children? Are there books and toys to keep waiting children
occupied? Do the practice employees seem to relate well to children? Are
children's toilets, diaper-changing rooms, and other facilities designed with
your comfort in mind?
- Does the office process insurance claims, or must you
pay up-front for services and file the claims yourself? Is there an extra charge
for completion of school or sports physical examination forms?
- Does the
practice seem like a good "fit" for you and your child? Is your child
comfortable with the doctor and staff? Try to talk with any pediatrician you are
considering and introduce your child to him or her. Are you happy with the
doctor's manner and communication style?
For more, please visit the Children's Health Center.
Last Editorial Review: 3/21/2008