December 26, 2015


An open and responsive manner
A good doctor is willing to listen and take the time to answer and respond to your questions and concerns.
Listening isn't just a matter of courtesy. You want your doctor to be good at diagnosing disease, "and to do that she has to listen carefully to what you have to say," says a pediatrician. "I spend only about 10 percent of my time as a diagnostician, but it's probably the most critical part of my job."
It's also key
to find a doctor who is responsive to your wishes concerning your care. If you're pregnant, that means finding a physician or midwife who will help you have the birth experience you want.
"I do a lot of preconception counseling appointments. It's important to sit down and talk about what's important to you," says ob-gyn
When you're considering a pediatric practice, find out whether the doctor shares – or at least respects – your views on feeding, sleep, vaccines, and other issues.
Knowledge – and the ability to share it
A good doctor doesn't just respond to the immediate health issue that brought the patient in the door, but considers the bigger picture of that patient's overall health and how to maintain and improve it. To do this, your provider has to be informed about the latest medical research in his or her field.
Knowledge by itself is not enough, of course. Good doctors are able and willing to communicate that knowledge in language you can understand, not medical jargon.
Your doctor and your child's doctor should offer a wide range of information, including nutrition tips, preventive measures you can take to keep yourself and your family healthy, and updates on recent medical advances. Your pregnancy caregiver should make sure you understand the steps to a healthy pregnancy, as well as practical advice like how to recognize the signs of labor and pregnancy symptoms that can signal a problem.
If you're a new parent, your baby's doctor will be a key source of information on breastfeeding, formula feeding, introducing solid food, vaccines, developmental milestones, and more.
"Educating parents is an important part of a pediatrician's job,"
"Parents aren't necessarily going to know what questions to ask, so it's important to provide 'anticipatory guidance.' That is, to offer information ahead of time about health and developmental issues that are likely to come up.
A good reputation
Your doctor should come highly recommended – and not just by your best friend. Most people choose their doctors based on word of mouth. That's fine, but try to consult a range of people so you'll have a choice and a basis of comparison.
"When people move to a new community, I advise them to ask everyone they meet for the name of their doctor. See which names keep coming up," says a pediatrician.
When it comes to specialists, it's a good idea to ask your primary care doctor and any other doctors you know for recommendations.
You'll find plenty of doctor ratings online, too. Don't choose or reject a physician based solely on one or two reviews, but do pay attention to feedback that's consistently positive or negative.
Available, easy to reach
A good doctor has regular office hours and clear, consistent guidelines for getting medical advice and help during nights and weekends. Your doctor – or a representative, if your doctor is unavailable – should return your phone calls promptly. This will make your life much easier!
When choosing a doctor for your baby, find out whether it's easy to make and change appointments (life with a baby can be unpredictable). Make sure you understand the cancellation policy, too. Many offices charge a fee if you don't give enough notice that you can't make an appointment. Also ask whether the office saves a few slots every day for urgent care appointments, so you'll know your child can be seen right away if necessary.
If you're choosing a doctor or midwife to deliver your baby, find out how the practice handles labor and delivery, whether you're likely to be delivered by someone else in the practice depending on who's on call, where you will deliver, and what will happen in case of an emergency.
Finally, remember that the quality of your doctor's office staff is essential.
"I have a wonderful nurse assigned to me, and in many ways she's more responsible than I am for the nature of patients' experience. She keeps me on time. She spends time with patients and answers many of their questions. She is their glue in an otherwise sophisticated and intimidating system," says an ob-gyn.
Respect for your time
When considering a doctor for your baby or an ob-gyn, ask how long, on average, patients have to wait when they come in for an appointment. Keep in mind that having a doctor who respects your time doesn't mean you'll never have to wait.
"I treat every patient as a unique case, and I take as much time as I need to provide the best possible care," says a doctor "If there's a child with abdominal pain or a teenager threatening suicide, I'm going to spend the time it takes, and I'm not watching the clock. If this means that sometimes my patients have to wait because another patient is having an emergency, I hope they realize that I'll do the same for their child in a heartbeat."
That said, even on the busiest days office staff shouldn't put you on hold indefinitely when you call, and they should keep you informed about how long you'll have to wait for your appointment.
Solid credentials and affiliations
Even the worst doctors can have fancy diplomas and impressive credentials, so don't base your choice on these alone. "A doctor could be the brightest person from the lamest school, or the lamest person from the most difficult school. I know many excellent physicians who graduated from schools I've never heard of," says a doctor.
Still, certain credentials are must-haves. Proceed with caution if your doctor doesn't have them.
Credentials to look for
First, all doctors are required to meet state licensure requirements, which vary somewhat from state to state.
Most physicians are board certified. This isn't a guarantee of competence, but it is an important seal of approval. Unless a doctor is fresh out of medical school and hasn't taken board exams yet, not being board certified is a warning sign that something's not right.
Consider hospital affiliation
Make sure you know which hospital your doctor is affiliated with. You'll want a hospital that's conveniently located and has a good reputation, since that's where you'll go to have your baby or if you or a family member needs to be hospitalized. 
Avoid doctors who have no hospital affiliation or are affiliated with a hospital that has bad ratings.
If you'll be delivering your baby at the hospital, ask moms you know about their experience with the labor and delivery nurses.  "When you have your baby, the labor and delivery nurses will be with you far more than the doctor will. He/she comes by and see how things are going every hour or so, but the nurses are there the entire time, and they have a lot to do with the quality of your experience."
A group or solo practice?
Another thing to consider is whether your doctor or your child's doctor is part of a group. being part of a group practice is helpful for doctors and patients alike. "We talk about cases, ask questions, puzzle things through together," patients get the benefit of their collective experience and knowledge." For patients, a group practice also offers more flexibility, for instance if you need to see a doctor on your regular doctor's day off.

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