Choosing a Pediatrician – 5 Things to Know
One of the many things you’ll do to prepare for baby’s arrival will be to find his/her pediatrician. It is best to begin this search by the second trimester.
5 things to consider when finding a doctor for your child:
1) Referrals, referrals, referrals – This should actually be your number one indicator that a doctor should be considered. There is nothing like meeting real moms who have had real experiences with a doc and then highly recommend him/her. Make sure you chat with moms who are local. And, this may seem obvious, but make sure your conversations are with actual moms. While your doctor can be a source to get a recommendation, it may come from a professional (networking) standpoint and not an experiential one.
2) How many doctors are in the clinic? If there are more doctors, there will be more options for appointments. This may not seem crucial in those first weeks, when you are on maternity leave and your entire life revolves around that newborn. Once life gets underway, you will appreciate a doctor’s office that can accommodate the ONLY two windows of time you’ve got for baby’s one-year well-baby checkup. In addition, the more doctors there are, the better your chances of finding one that you have chemistry with.
3) Are there male and female doctors? For the first several years, gender doesn’t matter. And in theory, it never matters. But if you plan to establish a long-term relationship with this doctor, you may want to consider, for example, how comfortable your daughter feels about discussing her period with a male pediatrician.
4) Hours and location – To echo the sentiment in point #2, the more hours they are open, the more appointment options there are. You most definitely want a practice that has at least some weekend hours. (Children don’t reserve getting sick for only Monday through Friday.) And if both parents work outside the home, occasional evening hours are wonderful. Also keep in mind the proximity of the practice–you won’t want to be driving an hour each time your child has a fever. Finding a practice that takes no more than 30 minutes to get to can be beneficial.
5) Interview – Once you have narrowed down your options, request an interview while you are still pregnant. Print out a guide of questions to ask then add in your own. The interview process not only allows you to meet the doctor but also lets you get a feel for other matters like the commute, the parking situation and the front desk staff. Keep in mind, a fair amount of your interactions will involve the front desk and nurses, so if you don’t like what you see during your visit, consider that a red flag.
Of course, it’s a given that you’ll want to find a doc within your insurance network and that has affiliations with the hospital or location at which you will be delivering. And if you find that you are unhappy with the choice you’ve made, find another pediatrician!