Choosing the Right Doctor for Your Kids

Dr. Caroline R Paul and Patient

Who’s your doctor? Is she good?

As a physician and a patient, I am well aware of the complexity of finding a “good” doctor. But, when we use the word “good”, we are really thinking of a “good” fit between the patient and the physician – between you and your doctor.

Finding your primary physician can be tricky. But, it can be helpful to think about what you want from your physician. Some may seem obvious but you can prioritize what is really important to you. A few considerations might include:

  • Personality
  • Office location
  • Clinic staff


Gentleness/firmness, the ability to communicate/a quiet approach, talkativeness/an intellectual approach, a sense of humor…these are all personality traits that may make up your physician’s demeanor. These are also traits that can be harder to pinpoint. Consider setting up a meeting with a physician to interview him or her and see how well you interact together. The majority of UW Health physicians also have a brief video you can watch to get a sense of their practice philosophy. You can find pediatricians, family medicine physicians and pediatric specialists through the Find a Doctor tool on the website.

Office Location

Consider the office. Is location important to you? How far do you want to travel? Do you need to take a bus, and if so, is the office easily accessible? How often you need to go in for sick visits and check-ups? Is parking easy for you and your family?

Your physician wants to help you be successful with your health care plan. Sometimes what may seem so arbitrary, such as office location, may actually make it more challenging for you to get to an appointment (and therefore, less likely you’ll actually go).

Clinic Staff

Think about your physician’s staff. Medical care involves a team approach. You, your physician, the nurses and assistants are all part of a team which strives to make the most out of each visit. So, when you look at your physician, look at the staff. Do you like what you see?

Getting to Know One Another

I look forward to prenatal visits and “meet the doctor” visits. I have families who come in to interview me with prepared questions whether on laptops or on dinner napkins. Some families come in to take a look and they seem to get a sense of what they like or do not like quite quickly. I welcome it all because like most physicians, I welcome the opportunity and honor to serve as someone’s physician. So, go interview your potential doctor and ask questions. Ask about her or his staff, office and general approach to medicine.

I love to answer general questions about clinical issues such as immunizations and the use of antibiotics. I love to talk about why I chose to become a pediatrician. I love to discuss my perspective of how I fit into the patient-physician role. I hope that such discussions guide families as they navigate the process of finding the best-fit doctor for them.

Finally, I think one of the best resources for finding your good-fit doctor is to ask your own friends, family and neighbors. They can be your best source. They know you and they know their doctor. Don’t ask another doctor for a good reference. Rather, ask another patient.

What’s the most important factor when choosing a doctor for your children?

One comment

  • As a Mom with a child with a rare disease I want to know if my Dr is willing to learn with me. (it is that rare that most Drs do not know about it!) Is he open to learning and exploring options for her. That is what makes a Dr special to me… him or her being part of our team for her care!

    One other thing I also like to know is that they continue to educate themselves or go to conferences like the AAP American Academy of Pediatrics conference!

    The last thing that I find very important is if the Dr is accessible at all hours or has someone who can call me back when I feel something is wrong! Our Dr has been so wonderful he has even met me after calling him on a Sunday morning at 430 am from the ER bawling my eyes out because of the way we were being treated and was there 10 mins later! He explained things to the ER staff and he helped to get her stable again!

    Those are the things I look for in my Dr!!!!