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5 Signs You Chose the Right Pediatrician

Photograph by Twenty20

I took my daughter in for her well visit today—she's 17—and it really hit me that this was probably the last time I will sit in the waiting room at the pediatric office. When you have your first baby (or second or fifth) the relationship you develop with your pediatrician may be one of the most important in your life as a mom. But how do you know you've got a good fit? Here are just a few of the reasons we love our pediatrician—and why I will miss her when my daughter "graduates" to an adult practitioner.

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1. Awesome staff members

Shouldn't the first awesome thing be about the pediatrician herself? Sure, that's the main relationship here. But you could have the best pediatrician with a crappy, inefficient office staff and it wouldn't work. I have always felt like the staff at our pediatric office has gone above and beyond to make sure that my concerns were heard and to make me feel like my questions weren't ridiculous (even when they probably were). Even when they hire new people, they obviously make it known that the patient—and her mom—are the most important people in the equation. It shows.

2. Straight talk

Moms want to know what's up when something is wrong with their child. Some doctors don't have the best delivery, and a diagnosis that isn't so serious can come across as a big deal. I always appreciated that my kids' pediatricians were honest with me and gave me the full scoop on what was happening with them—even if part of it might sound scary. From run-of-the-mill mom worries to serious concerns, just give it to me straight so I know everything I need to know.

3. Follow up

(The pediatricians) made me feel much more confident that I wasn't dropping the ball somehow.

When your child is ill or having a medical issue, it's sometimes hard to remember all the things you heard during the pediatric visit. Having a doctor who follows up with you is a huge thing, especially for a new mom. Both of my kids' pediatricians always made sure to follow up on the more serious issues, which made me feel much more confident that I wasn't dropping the ball somehow.

4. Listening

Sounds pretty basic, but you really need a pediatrician who listens to you—and your child. If the doctor isn't listening to your fears/questions/concerns about immunizations/medications/treatments/action plans then how can you feel good about following the plan of attack? Any good pediatrician will really listen to you and respond appropriately. If you don't feel heard, you won't feel confident.

5. Flexibility

I know I have been in a few situations with my own doctors where there was simply no flexibility on their part. Nothing makes a mom's life more complicated than squeezing in last-minute office visits between kindergarten pickup time and soccer practice at 3 p.m. Find an office and staff that have some flexibility in their scheduling, or at least the ability to squeeze you in for emergencies. Our office has early morning hours for sick visits, in-and-out shot clinics for regular immunizations and Saturday morning visits. Anytime we needed a visit, they always found a way to get us in.

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I will miss these tiny chairs, the toy box in the corner of the waiting room, the stickers from the nurses and the cheerful paintings on the walls. This office got me through two childhoods in one piece—and we made a pretty good team.

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