Choosing a doctor is tough. For as many doctors as are out there, and we all know there are tons, it can be very hard to find one for yourself or your child.
Here are some pearls of wisdom that my wife and I learned as we tried to find an obstetrician for my wife and a pediatrician for my daughter.
1. Location, location, location.
The most important rule in real estate applies to physicians as well. You want to find a doctor’s office that is close to your home, work, or daycare. If the “best” pediatrician in town is a 45-minute drive and has limited availability, is that really the best doctor for you?
Imagine you are having your busiest day of the week or busiest week of the month – when would you have time to see the doctor or take your child in? Over the lunch hour? Before work in the morning? Many offices have responded to the unusual hours and long days many of us keep by adding morning and evening hours to accommodate.
3. Physician network.
Almost all physicians nowadays are part of a larger network rather than hanging a sign and going at it alone. It isn’t essential for most people to stay in network (our pediatrician isn’t a part of the “network” we would take our daughter to if she needed to be hospitalized, but our doctor does see patients at our children’s hospital). For a more medical needy child (meaning they see multiple specialists and require more frequent hospital visits), it can be helpful to keep it all in the same network so that your medical record from specialists is easily accessible to the ER doc that sees your babe at 2 a.m.
Board-certified physicians are proven to take better care of patients and be up to date on the latest treatments and protocols. They are tested regularly enough that they have to keep up on the literature. They also have the backing of their professional organization that they are a competent physician. This isn’t a guarantee that they are a great doctor, but it does show they have an active interest in remaining current on the best way to care for their patients.
5. The Physician.
Last (but not least), the doctor themselves. Word of mouth is a huge draw for physicians, so ask people you trust who they see and how satisfied they are with their care. Each person and doctor is different and you want to find someone that you mesh well with. It takes time to figure out if a specific doctor is a good fit for you and something you have to continually re-evaluate.
People who trust and respect their doctor are more likely to go see them regularly and have better health outcomes. The other thing to remember is that it is NOT a permanent decision – like I said above, you have to continually re-evaluate if your doctor is meeting your needs or the needs of your child.
Remember that you can always switch physicians too. We actually did this – we had a pediatrician lined up before birth and stuck with him for the first few months. He is a great physician but just didn’t fit with the bedside manner. We were hoping for from our pediatrician. We switched and couldn’t be happier with our decision.
Philip Boucher is married with two children, he’s a physician at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. You can read him here on momaha.com
Tell us how you selected your physician. What matters most to you — location, board-certification, the doctor’s personality?
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