Put “Shared Values” and “Good Listener” at the Top of Your Pediatrician Search Checklist

By: Dr. Meg Meeker

I love being interviewed by new parents who are thinking of bringing their babies to my practice. The relationship that we parents establish with our pediatricians is really very intimate. Obviously parents need pediatricians to provide medical care to their children. But as parents we also share our deep worries, trust our doctor’s advice, and must have a mutually respectful relationship. So as you choose a pediatrician, I encourage you to think about things that I believe (both as a mom and a pediatrician) are important to know.

Make choosing a pediatrician who listens with an attentive ear a priority. An enormous part of an accurate diagnosis stems from a doctor’s ability to really listen to what you have to say because you know when something is wrong with your child and your intuition must be respected. It is important that you also feel at ease with everyone who works in the practice office including nurses and receptionists; you’ll deal with them at least much as the doctor.

Also, do some digging into the doctor’s philosophy and make sure that it is similar to yours. For instance, I feel that it is critical for parents to know that they have a choice when it comes to important issues like feeding babies. You’ll want to know if the doctor prefers, and therefore encourages, one type of feeding over another.

I have always considered every parent to be as much my patient as their children, because as a wise and elderly colleague told me when I was a young doctor starting out in practice, “If you take good care of parents, you won’t have to worry about their children.” I consider it an honor and privilege when an expectant or new parent entrusts me to be their family’s pediatrician. You should feel comfortable that your pediatrician feels the same way.

Here is a checklist of items to consider when selecting your pediatrician. And remember, if after several months you realize the doctor you selected isn’t a good fit for you, switch to a new doctor you feel comfortable with.