You're right to wonder. People look for different things in doctors, and what's most important for you may not even be on someone else's radar. So rather than just gathering a list of names, try asking some probing questions of whoever makes the recommendation, including:
- How does your child respond to the doctor?
- Does the doctor seem to enjoy working with children?
- Does the doctor seem to know about the latest medical advances?
- Does the doctor welcome questions?
- Does the doctor take time to discuss problems and listen to your concerns?
- If it's a group practice, do you know and like the other doctors?
- Is the office staff patient and helpful?
- How long do you usually have to wait?
- Is the waiting room pleasant and kid-friendly?
- Is parking plentiful and convenient?
- Is there anything you don't like or wish was different about your child's doctor or her practice?
The answers you get can help narrow your list to the handful of doctors you'd like to meet in person.
Before going a step further, make sure all the doctors you're considering are taking on new patients and will accept your health insurance. And although this might seem unnecessarily cautious, it's wise to check with your state medical board to find out whether any doctor you're interested in has been disciplined for wrongdoing.
Next, look over your list and note which doctors have convenient locations and office hours. The best doctor in the city can lose her luster if her office is hard to get to (imagine driving at rush hour with a sick and miserable child).
The next step is visiting your top prospects at their office. Only a face-to-face meeting (preferably with both parents present) will show you whether this doctor has the warmth, sensitivity, and professionalism you're seeking.