During your visit, always seek out that treasure trove of information who resides near the waiting room, the office manager. Start with small talk, throw in a genuine compliment (“Nice earrings!”), then ask the insider questions below. (Make a copy of them to use as a cheat sheet.)
- Do you or any of your family members use this pediatrician?” If not, gently probe as to why.
- “How many children of physicians does the doctor treat?” If it’s two, then my kid wouldn’t be the third. “What are your office hours? Do you have early morning, evening, and weekend hours to accommodate working parents or emergency situations?”
- “How much vacation does the doctor take each year?” If it’s more than one month, hesitate. You instinctively know your kid’s emergency will happen when “The Doctor Is Out.”
- “Last year, how many conferences did the doctor go to? How many continuing medical education courses did he take?” The office manager likely processes the paperwork for conferences and courses. If the response is “Zero,” that’s a bad answer.
- “Have you ever seen the pediatrician respond to an emergency situation? Did he take control? Was he as effective as he could have been?” Is the doctor typically stoic and calm in emergencies or excited and tense. Calm is better.
- “Speaking of emergencies, in a life-or-death situation, which pediatrician in this practice would you want to treat your child? Why?” If she doesn’t pick the doctor you’re interested in, you have more homework to do.
- “Compared with other pediatricians you’ve worked with, how does this doctor feel about getting phone calls at home? “Compared with other pediatricians you’ve worked with, is this doctor a bit anal about keeping charts and things well organized or a little more relaxed about that stuff than the others?” You definitely want anal.
- “How does the doctor treat the office staff?” Meaning the nurses, receptionists, clerical helpers, and the office manager, not just other docs in the practice. Ask if “please” and “thank you” are common, or is yelling more typical? I think niceness counts big-time. You don’t want to hesitate phoning the doc in an iffy situation because you’re worried about somebody’s bad attitude.
From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.Find out more about this book: The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, an...During your visit, always seek out that treasure trove of information who resides near the waiting room, the office manager. Start with small talk, throw in a genuine compliment (“Nice earrings!”), then ask the insider questions below.... More