My family is in a moment of transition - we've left our old city for a new one, but haven't yet closed on a house yet, so we live in a third city. This isn't usually a big deal, except that I think my daughter has an ear infection - and I don't know where to take her. Our old doctor is over three hours away. I could possibly take her to an urgent care in my current city. Or, of course, I could take her to a pediatrician in the new city where we're going to live (over an hour away).
I don't like to rush into choosing a doctor, so I settled on taking her to urgent care. To me a doctor is not just someone who writes you a prescription for a handful of symptoms. In the best cases, doctors can become lifelong family friends who care for you as a whole person. At the very least, the pediatrician you choose should be someone you can trust.
This criteria might seem trivial - until you're racing to the doctor's office with a kid who is freaking out and in pain. Having medical attention within a few moments' drive/walk/bike would definitely help me breathe easier. True story: I once needed multiple stitches in my upper lip after a literal run-in with a barbed wire fence. I was four. And, of course, I was in the middle of the Arizona desert. My mom had to try to console me in the backseat the entire ninety minutes to the hospital. And as terrible as that was for me, I imagine my parents felt horrible that we were so far from medical care. Moral of the story? Don't run into barbed wire fences, and find a pediatrician near home.
You, I'm sure, are a busy parent with lots of things that demand your time and attention. It can be really hard to juggle a sick kid - or even just the super-frequent checkups for a healthy newborn. Add in rigid office hours and late fees, and it can feel like you're being penalized simply for being a busy parent! Our last pediatrician belonged to a practice - North Suburban Pediatrics - that has early and late drop-in sick visit hours and a 24/7 on-call number. They even have Saturday AND Sunday appointments available! This flexibility in their availability made them a no-brainer for us.
This should go without saying, but: make sure that they're in your insurance's preferred provider list or provider network, if you have one. As an added bonus, try to find a doctor that has privileges at the hospital you plan on delivering at (or the place you'd take your kid in an emergency). Having "privileges" means that your pediatrician can consult with you, treat your child, or even do newborn exams in the hospital - which streamlines medical records and treatment.
Last but certainly not least - if anything, perhaps the most crucial! Do you want a laidback pediatrician who will laugh off a little dirt? Would you prefer a practice where all patients are on the standard vaccine schedule? Maybe your kid does best with a particular type of personality, or the doctor has friendly eyes. If the doctor has good rapport with your child and with you, you're in the money. Our former pediatrician - the same woman that has cared for my kids since they were born - spent just as much time talking to me about my postpartum mental health as she did umbilical stump care. She didn't just treat my whole child - she cared for my whole family. And that kind of compassion? That makes all the difference.
What other factors do you consider when you're looking for a new medical care provider? Do you have a favorite doctor? What makes them so great? Tell me about yours, and I'll tell you about my beloved Dr. Jelcz on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3.