Choosing a pediatrician is tough, especially here in Whidbey Island where the resources seem to be limited, a bit slimmer if you’re on Tricare Prime and you sometimes get assigned a pediatrician that you know nothing about.
So how do we moms know that we have the right pediatrician? We can get recommendations from our friends, family, acquaintances, your OB or Midwife, maybe some random Facebook group or a trusted group, but it all boils down to our own priorities.
For me, I picked a pediatrician that is compatible with our philosophy but honestly the practical things that made the visits a bit “easier” was a nice touch.
I created a list that is divided into two, first is the “nice to have” and the other one is the bare family philosophy.
Nice to Have:
- Office hours. How early does the office open and how late does it close? I think depending on your family sometimes the later hours will be beneficial especially if both parents are working. Do they have weekend or holiday hours?
- Convenient office location. I like to make sure that I have an option to park away from the hustle and bustle. Do you mind the drive to your doctor’s office? Would you like it close to home?
- Appointments. How are they handled? Do you have to make a phone call to make an appointment or can you just come to the office and be seen on a first come first serve basis when your child is sick? There’s many pros and cons to either system.
- Urgent Care VS Emergency. How are urgent/emergency matters handled? How do you get a referral to the ER? If you’re on TRICARE Prime, do you know the procedure?
- Office wait time. Do you have to come in 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled appointment to fill out paperwork? Are the appointments usually on time? Does the lobby have a bit of entertainment for the young ones just in case the appointments run late?
- Certifications. Is it necessary that your doctor is board certified in pediatrics?
- Phone calls. Does your doctor’s office have a “call hour” where your doctor answers all their phone calls or do they have nurses call in consultation with the doctor?
- Bills. How are they handled? Which insurances do they take? What insurance do you have?
- Labs. If laboratory tests are needed, are they capable to do it in their office or do you have to go somewhere else?
- Contingency. If your care provider is sick or on vacation, who covers for them? Depending on the office size they may be from the same office or they may be from another practice.
Your family philosophy or values play an important part; these are some things you may want to consider
- Antibiotics. Do you want a physician ready to give them or do you want someone who would rather wait?
- Breastfeeding. Depending on what your plans are, you may want to pick someone who supports your decision and also knowledgeable.
- Circumcision. It is your decision, does your provider support it?
- Immunization. How knowledgeable are they and do they provide ample information for you to make that decision?
- Special Circumstances. Diet restrictions, such as dairy free, nut free or soy free, would they be able to provide information. Religious preferences? Allergy testing?