After working in a children's hospital and then going through four pediatricians with my own child, I have learned so much about what not to allow in the exam room. It is important to find a pediatrician that fits with your family and one that you trust to care for your child. Moms and dads want to fix every problem, but the truth is that at some point you will need some help so finding a doctor you trust is essential in providing for your child.
1. Does the pediatrician engage your child?
This should be obvious, but unfortunately it does not always happen. The child is the patient and whether they are 12 months or 12 years, they should be the focus of the appointment.
2. Do you feel comfortable answering questions honestly?
Regardless of whether or not your answer will be popular, you are the parent and you are the expert on what works and what doesn't work in your home. The relationship between a pediatrician and parent/child should be a partnership of open, honest communication. If you are only answering based on what you think your doctor will want to hear, neither of you is fully benefitting from the relationship.
3. Does the pediatrician make eye contact, actively listen to you and not jump to conclusions?
Again, this may sound obvious, but these are things that should be expected. Just because a person has the letters M.D., D.O., P.A., N.P, or any other title does not mean that they are above showing common curtesy and respect. An excellent pediatrician will be able to actively listen while completing the assessment even in a time crunch.
4. Are the questions asked related to your concerns or only read off a list?
All practitioners have a number of questions they must ask in order to fully assess your child. Often these questions are standardized and give a clear picture of the patient. It is, however, important that the pediatrician is able to deviate from their mental check-list to address your concerns.
5. Do you feel known by your pediatrician or just like one of the masses even after years of visits?
In some practices, it can feel overwhelming to walk in and feel just like another number. This does not have to be the case as some practitioners are better at personalizing the experience than others.
These things are important to me and I understand they may not be a make or break for others. The most important thing is finding someone who will provide excellent care for your child. Write down what areas are important to you and don't be afraid to keep searching until you find the best fit.