Choosing a family doctor for your child or baby is not a decision that should be taken lightly. After making a list of a few local doctors, it’s important to schedule a short interview with your prospective health care provider to learn more about them. Bring along your significant other, parent or close friend to help you take notes and supplement any questions you may have to ask. Here are a few things you should consider as you make your choice:
1. The Doctor’s Hours
With busy work schedules and your child’s school schedule, it’s sometimes hard to find time to go to the doctor. Find out what your prospective doctor’s hours are and if they take appointments in the evenings, on weekends, or any other time that your schedule allows. Along with hours, it’s important to ask if he or she has a single or group practice. Doctors with a single practice have no backup doctors to take their place when a child needs medical attention. Group practices often have several doctors that can treat your child if your primary doctor is unavailable. This question may be easily answered by a receptionist allowing more time for other questions during the doctor’s interview.
2. The Doctor’s Distance
It’s important to take into account how far you have to travel to meet with your child’s doctor. No one wants to face the idea of traveling long distances or through rush hour with a sick child or baby in the backseat. Having a quick trip to the doctor can also ease your mind. No worrying about how long it will be before your child is checked out.
3. The Doctor’s Hospital Affiliation
During your initial family doctor interview, ask with what hospital the doctor or practice has affiliation. If there was ever an emergency, this is the hospital to which your child would be recommended. Check out the hospital and make sure it has everything you want or feel you might need. Things like tests and other care that the doctor’s office cannot handle will be done through the hospital.
4. The Doctor’s Child Care Philosophy
Every person is different and everyone has their own sets of beliefs and standards. Ask your doctor how they feel about things like antibiotics, vaccinations, breastfeeding, weaning, circumcision and other topics about which you feel strongly. If your views on child care don’t match up with the doctor’s in a significant way, you may want to interview other doctors before you make a decision.
5. Well Baby and Well Child Visits
Well baby and well child visits are an important part of keeping your children healthy. Ask your prospective doctor how often they suggest check-ups, what the visits will consist of and how long the check-ups last. While you have the full attention of your future doctor in an interview, it’s important to ask every question you can think of. It will ease your mind about making the right decision for your family.
6. How Questions are Answered
Does your doctor have a certain time during the day where they answer phone calls? Do they answer phone calls throughout the day? Who will you be calling? Can you email your doctor? What happens if you have a question during the doctor’s off-hours? All of these questions are important to ask because children don’t become ill on a schedule. Parenting can leave you with lots of questions about your child’s health, especially for new parents with babies. Not only should you feel comfortable asking your doctor anything, but you should also know when to ask so that your questions will be answered.
7. The Doctor’s After Hours Care
Life does not happen on a schedule. Your baby or child may get sick on a day that your doctor is not working. Ask what he or she recommends you do if you need medical care, but they are unavailable. Some doctors may recommend you go to another doctor within their practice, others might suggest you go to urgent care or a walk-in clinic. It all depends on the doctor. Make sure you a comfortable with their recommendations.
8. Your Comfort Level
It’s important that you feel at ease talking with your prospective family doctor. If your gut feeling is that something is not right, that’s okay. Choose another doctor to interview. You want someone who you will feel comfortable asking questions about your child or baby’s health, even if the question seems silly to you. Follow your intuition if something feels wrong. If you are going to have or already have a new baby, remember that you will be visiting the doctor often for routine well baby visits. If you want, you can even check in with the state medical board and learn about the past history of any doctor you are considering. Never hesitate to change doctors if you are not happy with the services you are receiving.
To get started on your doctor search, visit Sunnybrook Medical Plaza in Sioux City to schedule an appointment with a family medicine doctor today!