OT: Picking a pediatrician, what to look for?

Submitted by Creedence Tapes on February 16th, 2013 at 5:01 PM

My wife and I have a little Wolverine on the way due end of March and are in the process of looking into choosing a pediatrician. The question for the board is what do you guys look for in a good pediatrician? We would prefer a doctor who works exclusively with children, and has children of their own, but not sure what else we should be looking for. We both grew up in Michigan and currently live in the Bay Area. 



February 16th, 2013 at 5:08 PM ^

This is not a complaint about this being OT, but you will get much much better responses on a parenting board that has a Bay Area section. As stated above, you want referrals. If you don't know a lot of people with kids in the area, that's the best way to get referrals.


February 16th, 2013 at 5:08 PM ^

Referrals. Totally agree. Have any doctor friends? Ask them who is best or who they take their kids to. They have a fast communication network.


Also, I try to find out how "prescription happy" the doctor is when we start. Some seem to give antibiotics for everything. Kind of freaks me out.

Steve in PA

February 16th, 2013 at 10:07 PM ^

My daughter had a UTI when she was only a few months old.  Even though she exhibited all the signs of a UTI the DR insisted on a lab speciman.  In a child that young that means a catheter since they can't deliver the specimen.  It was so painful for my daughter that two of the nurses were crying.

I understand antibiotic overprescription, but that was uncalled for IMHO.

Anyway, I'd go with referrals if that is in any way an option.  I'm not 100% a pediatrician is even required if you're comfortable with your family doctor and your child doesn't have any issues.

good luck.  Being a parent is the best thankless/payless job in the world.


February 16th, 2013 at 8:23 PM ^

Please excuse my ignorance but I'm only a PhD, so I may be unqualified here, but the very definition if a pediatrician is a physician who works exclusively with children. Am I missing something?

My only advice, make sure your doctor wasn't home schooled.


February 16th, 2013 at 5:13 PM ^

If it's Bay City, I may be able to help; my wife works with health care providers in the Tri-Cities. If it's San Francisco, you're on your own.


February 16th, 2013 at 5:15 PM ^

with a lot of the pediatricians -- not just your OB/GYN.   Also, your OB/GYN can be a great referral source.  

Make sure you know what  selection criteria are most  important to you, and don't be afraid to ask questions.   Do you care most about the MD's (or OD's) academic credentials, certifications, experience, size of practice, accessibility, proximity,  etc. . .  Also, you may want to pay for a couple visits to different pediatricians to "interview" them.  You are likely going to be visiting them for years, so a small initial investment can be valuable in making sure you are happy with an important relationship for you and your child.

Also, you may want to choose a practice that uses Pediatric Nurse Practioners in addition to Pediatricians.  The PNPs can likely take more time with you and your child when you make office visits.  


February 16th, 2013 at 6:13 PM ^

It's not only where the pediatrician went to med school, but where did they do their training.  Because a med school is well known, it doesn't automaticlly follow that they have a great pediatrics program.

You also need to see who else is in the practice and how they are credentialed.  For well baby care, you will se your doc, but when your little one gets sick in the middle of the night, you typically get the doc covering call.

From my perspective, I'd also like someone who has been practicing for a while.  Experience is a great teacher.

If you can find some other docs with young kids, ask who they use, as docs know these things.

Congrats on your new arrival.


February 16th, 2013 at 5:16 PM ^

Everyone is saying referrals, so another suggestion: education.  You can usually find their degrees through a simple web search (or their webpage, if they have one).  While it's not a surefire indicator, it's always nice to see B.S. U of Chicago, M.D. Northwestern, instead of Eastern Illinois and USF.


February 16th, 2013 at 5:21 PM ^

Once you get referrals, You should meet with prospective peds prior to having the baby to make sure you are comfortable with them and you like their practice, bedside manner, and views.

Perhaps I'm a little jaded by being in NYC, but some practices are just factories where you feel like a piece of cattle and others you rarely see the doctors and are mostly seeing nurses, so meeting them ahead of time will give you a feel for the practice.


February 16th, 2013 at 5:21 PM ^

Referrals are great, but you also want to make sure this person takes the time to answer questions.  I have found we see my son's peditrician far more than I ever see my doctor, and his doctor takes the time to answer our questions without appearing to be in a hurry to run to another patient.  In other words, he treats us like people rather than a paycheck.

Ask lots of questions during your interview with him/her.  Should also ask if they have an area of subspeciality (diabetes, etc.).  Find out what they think about the things that matter to you and your wife and make sure you are all like minded.

One other for instance: my wife and I weren't  fans of giving our son 5 immunization shots in one session.  He was very understanding and said he had no problem doing whatever we wanted to do.  I think we ended up spreading it out over a period of months, which was his suggestion in the end. 

Hope this helps.  Good luck with your little Wolverine.  Go Blue.


February 16th, 2013 at 5:22 PM ^

In addition to getting referrals as others have mentioned, ask those who provide referrals about the entire practice, not just one doctor. Doctors have days off, and when junior needs to be seen right away, he might just be seen by another doctor in the practice.  Also, even the best doctor with a crappy nurse or receptionist can make visits less than pleasant.  


February 16th, 2013 at 5:23 PM ^

One thing that has always been helpful for us - and one of the reasons we really like our pediatrician in Ann Arbor - is a friendly office staff that responds in a timely manner and good availability, including Saturday hours, as our kids have a tendency to present bugs at awkward times of the day and night. Ours even has a paging service that is 24/7, so if we needed to do so, we could at least talk to someone. I would ask about things like this as well. 


February 16th, 2013 at 5:29 PM ^

The easiest thing to do (depending if you have time of course) is to interview them.  Talk to the OB's, ask where they send their kids.  Then interview the pediatricians and see who you like.  Some people want a male/female doc based on if they have a boy/girl.  It makes a difference in terms of comfortability with your child but may not matter if you have more than one kid and one of each gender.  Also, parenting style is a huge thing.  If you are against vaccines find a pediatrician who's okay with that.  If you want to space out vaccines find someone who is okay with that.  You want to breast feed until your kid is 13, it'll be tough but find a doc who's not going to give you a hard time about it.  It's not an easy task but a very important one, a little time now will save you a ton of headache later. 

/pediatric resident in detroit.

Edit: also ask if they have residents/medical students.  It may not matter to you but it certainly matters to some parents and can definitely add time to most visits if they are present.


February 16th, 2013 at 10:59 PM ^

None of the attendings I work with are against vaccines as far as I know. I have seen one "excuse" a family from their practice for refusal to vaccinate which is why I brought it up. If a parent is against vaccines and has no interest in hearing the benefits etc then they are not going to have a good relationship with their doc and that's no good. Like I said, I'll avoid the arguments regarding vaccines (despite the bait further down the thread) and just say I'm 100% for vaccines and the vast majority of docs I know are as well...but it is certainly an issue that can cause friction.


February 16th, 2013 at 5:29 PM ^

  • Check their reviews - Google is your best friend.
  • Referrals -
  • Big group vs individual - definitely go with big group (i.e, other doctors can help you if your primary doctor is not there - he/she can not work 24 hours a day)
  • After hours visit (say 6 pm ~ 8 pm, Saturdays, Sundays)- absolutely needed for first few years
  • Way after hours consultation: you may need 24/7 consultation available over the phone if something happens, especially if this is your first child.


February 16th, 2013 at 5:34 PM ^

It's funny everyone is mentioning referrals from friends. When my daughter was born, she wasn't gaining weight the first few weeks and we were getting very concerned. Our pediatrician (highly recommended by friends of ours) was absolutely terrible at supporting our concerns or taking us seriously. Their response was, "oh she'll be fine! Sure your wife is having terrible problems nursing, but she'll be fine!" We thankfully thought better and switched pediatricians immediately and were given amazing support and a workable plan from our now current pediatrician.

Lesson learned: everyone thinks their doctor is the best. Your experience may differ! I work in a Children's hospital now, and frankly it is kinda terrifying how bad half the doctors really are. Their patients really don't know any better.


February 16th, 2013 at 5:41 PM ^

If you trust your ob that would be the first person to ask (for specific doctors). You should look for someone who takes what the parents say seriously. Some doctors think they are above you and know what is best for your child. Also someone who communicates well with you.


February 16th, 2013 at 6:48 PM ^

I second this advice. Our pediatrician (whom my husband went to high school with) can be somewhat condescending, and makes me feel stupid for having any concerns at all. I know they listen to nervous parents all day long, but that's why they're doctors - to listen to people's concerns, which actually may be legitimate. So, find someone who you feel listens to you. Doctors don't know everything, and they should listen to parents, who know their kids best. 

Cville Blue

February 16th, 2013 at 5:44 PM ^

I'm sure there are boards in the Bay Area that would be better places to get info.

That said, find folks that have similar values and philosophies about medical treatment. Our initial pediatrician was recommended to us by everyone, but had far too many patients. He was hard to to get in touch with and always seemed rushed. Most people love him. He actually recommended our current pediatrician. We had an honest talk with him and he pointed us in the right direction.

It's all about what you want. Our current pediatrician respects our views, but provides us with her expect opinion. She likes to space out vaccines and we can come in and get them without copays between visits. We feel really involved in the decision making and she spends a lot of time with us during our visits.

We have other friends that go to large practices where they see a different doctor every time. They love that practice based on the hours they are open and the ease of getting appointments.

I don't think I answered your question at all.


February 16th, 2013 at 5:43 PM ^

Some pediatricians have their waiting room divided into 2 sections - one for the sick kids and one for the healthy ones (since you bring your child in under both circumstances).  This IS NOT more important than the points made by others on referrals; alignment with your philosophy on tests and shots; or competence of office and staff.  But it is something that we have always appreciated when our pediatrician as had it.  Also, avoid places that loop the same 14 year old episode of Barney in the waiting room.  On occassion it has lead to unfortunate episodes of violence.