What's up, doc? If you are having your first child I suggest getting acquainted with that question. There's no doubt that you will rely on your pediatrician for more than just checkups and shots. Having a standout physician who knows how to support your family's needs is like finding out you have a fairy godmother. I've found there's no better way to get to know a doctor than getting recommendations from moms you trust, doing a little Google work, and then scheduling a consult and check-in with your child. Observing how the doc communicates with your tot and runs her office will help you scope out whether you'd like to build a relationship with her.
- Professional qualifications and reputation (the American Academy of Pediatrics — AAP — will provide you with a list of board-certified pediatricians if you ask for it).
- Health care viewpoints on various issues such as proactive/preventive medicine and nutrition.
- Office hours (weekend appointments, evenings, emergencies).
- Doctor cross-coverage (who are the other doctors covering when your doctor is unavailable?)
- Location — more than one office?
- Office environment and general feel and personalities of doctors and staff.
- After hours — answering service/returned phone calls.
- Triage system — who answers your calls when you have a question? Do you speak with a nurse or directly with your doctor?
- Health coverage issues/ HMO/PPO — how do you pay for visits?
If your child is already born, take any existing health conditions and your pediatrician's specialties into consideration. You may love your doc, but she might be able to suggest an equally knowledgeable ped who can better suit your child's medical needs. It's also important to note how a pediatrician communicates with adults. You may call her up with any number of questions — from silly to downright scary — and you need to know she will address each one with tact.