By Kenneth R. Keer, M.D.
Q: We’re about to give birth and want to find the right doctor for our child. What questions should I ask?
A: Interviewing a prospective pediatrician is similar to interviewing and choosing other professional service providers be they accountants, attorneys, or dentists. You want your professional to be qualified, accessible, and affordable. There is however, one major factor that must exist between parents to-be-and a doctor. That factor is the ease of communication. Being a parent involves on-the-job training and parents must feel comfortable asking questions of the doctor without feeling rushed, intimidated or “talked down to.” A physician may be a brilliant clinician but if he or she cannot communicate with the patient or the parents, the effectiveness of the doctoring is severely compromised. Besides determining the ability to communicate, the interviewing parents should answer some other questions.
1. Is the pediatrician involved in a teaching program at a children’s hospital?
This is one of the best ways for a busy pediatrician to keep current on new advances in medicine.
2. Is the doctor board certified or board eligible in his or hers specialty?
This shows the doctor adheres to the rigorous standards of an organization such as the American Board of Pediatrics or the American Board of Osteopathic Pediatrics.
3. What are the office hours and what is the doctor’s availability?
It doesn’t help to have a pediatrician who isn’t available 50-percent of the time because of extensive vacations, splitting time between two or more offices or other situations that decrease availability. It is also wise to determine who is available for your family when your primary physician is not.
4. Does the doctor have a similar philosophy to yours with regard to the use of antibiotics, emphasis on breast-feeding, openness to alternative medicine, etc.?
Try to get a feeling about the doctor’s willingness to discuss topics that may be controversial or are of concern to you.
5. Does the office accept your insurance plan?
If you cannot afford an office because the doctor is not on your plan then you must go elsewhere. There are other competent doctors who will probably be on your insurance plan. It is a shame, though, that patients no longer have total freedom to choose doctors of their choice.
In summary, remember the 4 “A’s”
These are good guidelines for choosing a doctor for your children who will be part of your team for childcare and guidance.
NOTE: The information provided through “Dr. Keer On Kids” is for general education purposes. It is meant to aid you in discussing your specific medical or health issues with your physician or qualified health-care provider. The information is not intended as a substitute for personal health-care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health-care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related questions. Do not wait for a response from our expert before this consultation.
Dr. Kenneth R. Keer is a board-certified pediatrician with offices in Tarzana, California. He has practiced medicine for more than 40 years. Send your questions to him at email@example.com.