Choosing a pediatrician can be a daunting task for parents. This doctor will likely be involved in their child’s life for 18 years. BetterDoctor has created a 7-variable, data-driven algorithm to determine doctor quality based on factors like medical school quality, referrals from other doctors and years of experience.

While this is a good starting point, there are other factors that determine whether a pediatrician is a good fit for your family. We put together a list of tips to choosing the best pediatrician from those who know best: doctors themselves.

1. Find someone you’re comfortable talking to.

“As a physician and a parent, I think the most important component in choosing a pediatrician, or any physician for that matter, is the level of comfort you have with the physician. One of the most important relationship one will have in life is the physician - patient ( parent) relationship. In today’s ever-expanding digital world, there is still the need for humanism in this relationship.”

-Andrew Murphy, MD, allergist

“Find a pediatrician who welcomes your participation in your child’s care. You want to feel comfortable asking questions, discussing diagnoses and treatments, and partnering with that pediatrician in your child’s care. There is a lot to learn about your child’s health and being able to understand what your doctor explains to you is an important part of healthcare. A doctor who is a good communicator looks you in the eye, explains information in layman’s terms, answers your questions, is patient with you and your child, and respects you as the child’s advocate/parent. This includes being respectful of your cultural orientation, beliefs and preferences.”

-Martine Ehrenclou, healthcare advocate and author of the Take-Charge Patient

2. Get recommendations.

“I think board certification and education go without saying. More importantly to me I recommend that patients get personal recommendations, so looking for personal experiences online from other parents is very important.”

-Marc A. Chester, MD, pediatric pulmonologist

3. Focus on the staff.

“As a nurse for 8 years and a dad of two young daughters, I know the frustrations of finding a great pediatrician. My go-to list for finding someone great has always been to first make sure they understand our insurance because nothing is more annoying than having them bill your insurance wrong every time. You are hiring the staff as much as you are hiring the doctor.”

-William Harris, RN

4. Choose a prevention-focused doctor.

“Does the Pediatrician practice prevention? The old model where you waited until the child was sick to seek medical care no longer applies. You need a Pediatrician who believe that a child doesn’t have to be sick to get better.”

-Stephanie H. Kong, MD, Pediatrician

5. Make sure their philosophy lines up with yours.

Determine if a pediatrician’s tenants of care are in alignment with your own, including philosophy of care, emergency procedures, conveniences and supportive or supplemental treatment options in the case of the primary doctor’s absence.

-Cynthia Urbanowicz, MD, pediatrician

6. Research their educational background and training

“Choosing a pediatrician can be a daunting task. I recommend knowing a little about the physician’s educational background and their training. Then, it is important to meet them to see if your personalities mesh and they are easy to communicate with. After all, this a relationship that you have to broker for your child for many years to come.

Discuss treatment philosophies, parenting approaches and physician availability is equally important. A pediatrician should be kind, compassionate, patient, a good listener and open to discuss your views on any and all topics.”

-Michael Howard, MD, pediatrician

7. Don’t forget the logistics.

“What are the hours of operation? This may seem obvious, but make sure you can make the office hours work for you. If you can’t, your inability to make appointments on time has a negative impact on everyone.

What insurances are accepted? Insurance options change, you may switch jobs prompting an insurance change, or the practice may change the insurance companies it works with. Find out in the beginning, and stay on top of this. ”

-Melaney Caldwell, MD, pediatrician 

Flickr // UW Health