One of the most important decisions you'll make for your child is choosing his or her doctor. This health professional will likely be involved in the care of your child for many years to come. If you're pregnant, start looking into doctors by your third trimester to give yourself time. You'll need to make an appointment with this doctor within weeks of baby's birth.
You might start by asking family and friends for recommendations.
When looking for a doctor, ask the following questions:
1. What are the doctor's qualifications?
Ask whether or not the doctor is board-certified. Doctors who are board-certified in pediatrics have special training in caring for infants and children. Family practice doctors are also well qualified to care for infants and children. They are certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and have residency training in family medicine.
2. How accessible is the doctor?
- Office hours. Find out when the office is open for appointments and if calls are returned after hours.
- Clinic size. Ask how many doctors and nurses are on staff. In a large practice, you may not always be able to schedule visits with your favorite doctor. But it's a good idea to build a relationship with one or two so they get to know you and your child better.
- Returning calls. New parents often have basic questions that don't require an office visit. Find out if return calls are restricted to a certain time of day. Sometimes, a nurse will answer routine questions, but will you be able to speak with the doctor if needed?
- Alternate coverage. In group practices, partners may cover for each other when one is out sick or on vacation. Solo practitioners may refer you to a doctor at another practice.
- Hospital affiliation. It is important to know the location and reputation of the hospitals that you may be using.
- Special needs. Will the doctor coordinate care for a baby or child who needs to see specialists?
3. Do your philosophies mesh?
To find out, arrange an in-person interview. Ask questions about issues that are important to you. Does the doctor support breast-feeding? What are his or her views about circumcision, using antibiotics, allowing babies to cry, disciplining children and dealing with sleeping problems? How does the doctor respond to concerns a parent may have about the immunization schedule?
If you're not happy with the doctor's answers to any of these questions, you may not be comfortable working with him or her if issues arise later.
4. How does the doctor handle urgent procedures?
Ask how emergencies are handled. Some doctors will handle minor stitches and minor injuries in the office. Others will refer you to a hospital emergency room.
5. Do you like the doctor's office and support staff?
When you visit the office, spend time in the waiting room. Is it clean and well equipped? Are there separate areas for healthy and ill children? Ask other parents about the usual waiting time for visits. Listen to the office staff as they interact with both parents and children. Are they friendly and helpful?
6. What insurance and payment does the clinic accept?
Always find out about insurance acceptance from the office staff even if the doctor or clinic is on your insurance company's network list.
If you do not have medical insurance or your policy does not cover well-child visits and immunizations, ask if you can set up a payment plan instead of paying in full at each visit.
Making the choice
Take time to review all of the facts you've gathered, but don't ignore your gut instinct. If you consider both the information order Revatio and your instincts when picking a doctor for your child, you'll likely be happy with the decision.