By Carolyn Hecken
- Proximity – Many parents place a high priority on the location of their pediatrician’s offices. When caring for a sick child or attempting to squeeze a well-check visit or (pre)school physical into a busy schedule, having your child’s pediatrician nearby can significantly simplify life.
- Communication – If you are an expat living in Munich, the language of communication you use with your child’s physician may constitute one of your primary criteria – especially since clear communication and an adequate rapport are key components in ensuring the quality of health care your child receives. Every parent and child deserves to feel confident that their concerns, no matter how (in)significant, will be addressed thoroughly and respectfully.
- Insurance – This seems like a no-brainer, but certain practices will only accept Private Health Insurance rather than the more common, Statutory Health Insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung). When you call to schedule, you’ll be asked which one you have.
- Accommodation of health needs and choices – For families of children with special health needs or conditions, it is crucial to select a pediatrician with medical expertise and experience in that specialty. This is not just true for children with health conditions pertaining to the heart or the endocrine system, for example. Each family deserves and is entitled to a supportive physician who is informed on the latest recommendations for infant feeding (including breastfeeding and the introduction of solids), the care of intact foreskin and the immunization schedule. A good pediatrician is not only competent in her field, she listens carefully and respectfully to the concerns of the parent and child, takes the time to explain proposed treatment or care and recognizes patient autonomy.
- Recommendations – from fellow parents can provide useful information in determining which practice might best meet the health needs of your family. By asking open-ended questions, you can glean deeper insight into the kind of care you can expect:
- “What do you like best of about Dr. Mustermann?”
- “How well and thoroughly do you feel your concerns are addressed?
- “What, if anything, do you wish were handled differently?”
Your family-specific priorities, preferences or needs will invariably differ from those of your friends; yet the answers to these types of questions will help you gauge with a greater accuracy whether a given pediatric practice is a good fit for you and your child.
6. Wait time – Whether “wait time” will play a significant role for you and your family undeniably depends on your needs and the overall management of the volume of patients at the pediatric practice you’ve chosen. Parents who find themselves routinely encountering longer wait times often consider whether the level of care received is an acceptable trade-off, or not, before looking into switching practices.