Be aware that calling a physician referral service doesn't necessarily help you find the best doctor. Often these services give recommendations by simply giving you a name from their list of doctors on the hospital or health plan staff. The referral service frequently does this on a rotating basis so that the recommendation you receive depends on which doctor is next on the list. Rarely will the referral service give you any idea which physician is best. In fact, most of the time the people who staff the referral service are not in a position to know the qualifications of individual doctors.
When asking around for referrals and recommendations, be sure to inquire if the pediatrician is board certified. Your child's pediatrician should be certified by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) if she has been in practice for more than a few years. Pediatricians certified after 1988 must take an examination every seven years to recertify and retain their board certification.
The Parent-Pediatrician Relationship
You should view your child's doctor as your partner and advisor and use her as a resource. You, the parent, remain primarily responsible for helping your child stay healthy.
However, you must have confidence in your child's doctor if the partnership is to work. If you don't have confidence in your child's pediatrician, summarize why and discuss these issues with the doctor. If you are not able to resolve the issues, you may need to find another doctor.
How a pediatrician's practice is organized will most likely influence your relationship with that doctor. Smaller clinics with only a few practicing doctors increase the likelihood that your child can see the same doctor on repeated visits. But larger practices with 10 to 15 pediatricians make it more difficult to see the same doctor each time; however, sometimes these offices offer a wider range of expertise and services as well. There are advantages and disadvantages to both small and large groups.
After you have done your research and have several recommendations, make an appointment to meet one or two of your favorite candidates. Building a relationship with your child's pediatrician before you need his services reduces anxiety. Be sure to ask if the pediatric office has pamphlets available describing their practice and their doctors' personal approaches to common pediatric problems.