Looking for a Pediatrician - Small/Private vs Conglomerate

I have been a Kaiser or Sutter patient my entire life and therefore only have experience with large health care providers.

My 11-month old is now under my husband's PPO, so for the first time I have a choice between a smaller practice or Sutter/John Muir.

I hear people recommending Berkeley Pediatrics, East Bay Pediatrics and other smaller practices.

My questions are:

1. For those of you who have experience with both big conglomerates and smaller practices, which do you prefer? Is it hard to get appointments, school forms, etc. with the smaller practices?

2. Do smaller practices places charge for emails? I want to be able to email the pediatrician basic questions without being charged.

3. What happens when you need Xrays, blood work, etc? Do I have to go somewhere else? Where? What if there is an emergency/after hours issue? The "all-in-one" of a Kaiser/Sutter is convenient.

Lastly, if you love your (non-Kaiser) pediatrician, I would appreciate recommendations!

Thanks for your help!

Parent Replies

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I LOVE E. Bay Pediatrics.  My now 15yo's baby doctor has recently joined, and she is GREAT!  They also have the BEST doctor for adolescents.  They do not charge extra for emails etc.  Labs are ordered, and can be done anywhere.  I found it easier, not harder, to work with them.  And better care.


We go to east bay pediatrics for both our kids and love it.  Generally haven't had an issue getting appointments and our doctor is amazing.


I feel like Berkeley Pediatrics is the perfect happy medium.  We started at UCSF with a family practice doctor -- in hindsight we should have chosen a pediatrician, because he seemed more comfortable treating adults than babies.  However, it was not easy to get in touch with him, which definitely seems like the downside of a big practice.  Our pharmacy gave us the wrong medication formulation for thrush and when we called UCSF, the first person we spoke to said it was fine to give our baby the powder, when actually we should have received an oral suspension.  This was just incorrect and caused us unnecessary stress.  Next, we went to GetzWell, which was very small and personalized but extremely expensive.  Finally, we switched to Berkeley Pediatrics.  We've been able to get appointments and school forms as needed and have not been charged for emails.  In addition, Dr. Franks is super amazing and actually responds quickly to emails!

Our kids have been patients at Berkeley Pediatrics for the last 21 years, and we love them! Our pediatrician is Dr. Olivia Lang, but all the doctors there are excellent. There is nothing like a smaller practice for pediatric care. We've had excellent, personalized care and continuity, and the place is much cozier and less threatening than large medical settings. Well check appts. need to be scheduled far in advance, but for urgent care, they've always been able to fit us in quickly. We've emailed with follow-up questions without being charged. Fast turnaround for school forms. Yes, you do need to go elsewhere for xrays and labs - where to go depends on your particular insurance. There is an answering service if you have problems after hours.

We absolutely adore our pediatrician at East Bay Pediatrics - Dr. Courtney Pickering. Although every pediatrician we’ve seen there has been amazing and I’d happily see any of them again. We email questions and receive a timely email response (no charge!) and have been fortunate to get same-day virtual visits when we’ve been traveling and needed quick advice. Couldn’t recommend them more!