How To Choose A Pediatrician You Won’t Cheat On With WedMD

woman and child with pediatricianFor those of us lucky enough to be able to choose a pediatrician, that choice can be extremely intimidating. A single town (or HMO) can have dozen of doctors available to pick from, and sadly there’s no such thing as a pediatrician speed-dating service to help you narrow down candidates.

One option, of course, is to write all the available pediatricians’ names on a dartboard and then let random chance make the choice for you. But if you’re looking to be a little more hands-on with the process, here are some of the most important things you should cover with anyone you’re considering trusting with your kids’ health.

First of all, the obvious: does their office accept your insurance or your preferred methods of payment? Did they go to a real medical school and not a Caribbean diploma mill? Does their waiting room look clean enough to belong to a medical professional, or like it’s a set piece for a medical version of the TV show Kitchen Nightmares? Based on your findings, you may be able to knock a few names off the list right away, hopefully without catching salmonella from any particularly disturbing waiting rooms.

If the waiting room is sanitary enough to hang out in, your fellow patients can help you get the kind of inside information you might not get from a first-date-style interview with the doctor herself. What do they like about the practice? What problems have they had? Are their kids, who are coughing all over the same aquarium that your kids are currently coughing all over, vaccinated?

Once you actually get to see the pediatrician, here are some things to look for:

  • Technobabble. If the doctor talks to you like you’re an extra on Star Trek, look out. He should be able to explain things to you in layman’s terms – you don’t want someone who’s going to railroad you with medical jargon that you may not have the background to understand.
  • Telling you what you want to hear. You may want to try fishing for more information on how the doctor is likely to respond when you ask for medically-unsound treatments. Mention a previous doctor who wouldn’t give you antibiotics for your case of flu, or something similar, and make sure you don’t just get smoke blown up your ass in response.
  • Attitude to questioning. Does the doctor seem actively interested in making sure their practice is a good match for you, or is the subtext of her answers one big “ughhhh”?
  • And of course, vaccination. Is the practice an anti-vaxxer-free zone? Or is there at least a separate waiting area (preferably on the moon, but in the back of the practice is OK too) for non-vaxxing patients?

All else being equal, you can ask about the kinds of little bonuses that make being the parent of a sick kid a little easier: an online patient portal, an on-call nurse hotline, weekend hours – but those are really just the icing on the pro-vaxxing, responsive, comprehensible pediatrician cake. And once you find your perfect match? All that’s left to do is hope you don’t need to talk to them very frequently.

(Image: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)

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