How to Select a Pediatrician
Before your baby arrives, it’s a good idea to select a pediatrician who can start helping you care for your baby immediately after birth. Choosing the right pediatrician for your family is an important childcare decision and should be based on several critical factors. Today we’re reviewing things you’ll want to consider when you select a pediatrician.
It’s wise to start your pediatrician search at some point in your second trimester. This will give you plenty of time to scope out the best choice for you before your little one arrives, even if the baby is a tad early.
Do Your Research
Ask friends and family in the area which practices and pediatricians they use and ask their personal opinions including any drawbacks or negative experiences they may have had. You can also get referrals from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ website. You’ll want to make sure the practices you are targeting take your insurance too.
Most pediatrician practices offer informational sessions to new parents. This is a time when they meet with prospective newbies like you to discuss the philosophies and procedures of their practice as we well as answer any questions you may have about how they care for their little patients. Usually one or two doctors from the practice will be at each informational session. If you have a certain doctor in mind, be sure to find out when that doctor will be facilitating a session.
When you meet with doctors, come prepared with questions so you can really compare practices apples-to-apples. Common questions for potential pediatricians include their vaccination schedule and policies, where they have hospital privileges (including the one where you deliver and the closest children’s hospital to you), certifications, and what their standard recommendations and support for breastfeeding, sleep schedules and other infant care issues are. You can usually get a sense of how you will click with a doctor by getting the answers to these questions.
Appointment, Office and Call-in Procedures
It may seem trivial, but office hours are important when it comes to your pediatrician. If you need to schedule well check-ups in the morning before heading to work, you’ll need a practice that opens early. Also, find out what their nurse line and call-in procedures are for questions as it’s very common for first-time parents to have lots of those! And be sure that if your child does have a problem that requires a medical referral, your pediatrician is well-connected within the medical community to make such recommendations and values coordinated care between multiple specialists.
You’ll probably want to select a pediatrician that is not terribly far from where you live, work or where your child will be in daycare, if that applies. While location should not be the make-or-break factor, getting to your doctor quickly for unexpected sick visits is something you should consider for convenience and safety purposes.
If you find that you are unhappy with the pediatrician you initially selected, try to pinpoint what it is about the doctor that is bothering you. Before switching practices completely, talk to a few nurses to get their recommendations of doctors within the practice that might be a better fit. Larger practices offer many options and it might be easier to simply see a different doctor within the same practice, if that is allowed. Otherwise, ask for your records to be transferred to a new practice and move forward with a new doctor. There is usually no need to confront your old pediatrician if you just didn’t click.
We wish you the best of luck as you select a pediatrician and welcome your new baby!