How to Choose a Pediatrician

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We have all compromised on occasion about our own doctors and healthcare. But you will find that your standards go up, as they should, when it comes to your children. So take the time to find a Pediatrician who you really like and feel comfortable with. Most Pediatricians are available for consultation before your baby is born. Simply call the office and schedule a consultation visit. Initial consultation visits are usually free of charge. Finding the right Pediatrician is important because you and your children will develop a close long-term relationship with him/her. And you want this to be a positive and enriching relationship for all of you. You want to find someone who will support you as a parent and who, eventually, will support your children as they grow up.

Where to Start
Ask your friends, family and co-workers with small children about their Pediatricians. There is nothing better than a personal recommendation. If you do not have any family or friends with small children you can ask your Obstetrician or check online for suggestions. It is a good idea to plan to meet with two or three Pediatricians before you have the baby so that you feel confident about your decision and know where you are headed for the first visit. Once you deliver many Pediatricians will see your baby in the hospital as well. When you call the office to schedule an interview make sure to first ask if the Pediatrician accepts your insurance/the insurance you will have for your baby and ask if there is a fee for the initial consultation.

What to Ask
If you are meeting with Pediatricians who were personally recommended then you are probably less worried about their medical competence and should be focusing on the rapport you have with them and their approach to taking care of children. Here are a few questions you may want to ask when you meet with a Pediatrician:

  1. Will you always see the Pediatrician you choose for checkups?
  2. How long has the Pediatrician been with the current practice?
  3. What will happen if your Pediatrician is not in the office on a day your child is ill?
  4. How many doctors are in the practice?
  5. Will you always see a doctor or are there nurse practitioners or physician assistants in the office as well?
  6. Are the doctors in the practice similar in their approach to illness and medications?
  7. If you have questions during regular office hours, how are they handled?
  8. If you have questions after hours, how are they handled?
  9. Is there a charge for after hours phone calls?
  10. Are there any other doctors who share being on call with the Pediatrician’s practice?
  11. What is the Pediatrician’s position on breastfeeding, alternative medicine, vaccinations, sleep training and general parenting?
  12. How long should you expect to wait for the doctor at a visit?
  13. Are same-day sick visits available daily?
  14. How far in advance do checkups need to be scheduled?
  15. How often does the Pediatrician like to see babies during the first year?
  16. How healthy children are kept separate from sick children at the office?

What to Look For

  1. What is the feeling of the office?
  2. Watch other families interacting with the doctors and staff as you wait for your appointment.
  3. Are the nurses and staff friendly?
  4. Is the office kid-friendly?
  5. Do you feel comfortable with the Pediatrician?
  6. Do you feel as if the Pediatrician is listening to you and answering your questions?