Let’s jump right to it: Have you chosen a pediatrician yet? Your baby isn’t going to wait until it’s convenient for you to find a doctor.
And if you have been thinking, “there will be plenty of time after the baby is born,” think again. The best time to find a pediatrician is before you need one.
Don’t wait until your baby is overdue for a vaccination, or you are worried and anxious because your baby has a runny nose that just won’t quit.
Choosing a pediatrician may be one of the most important decisions you make during your child’s early years, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
We’re going to take you through the process step-by-step to make it as easy and worry-free as possible.
Let’s knock out two quick questions that you may have before we jump in.
When Do I Start Looking for a Pediatrician?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends expecting parents start visiting pediatricians during the last trimester. If you’ve already missed this window, you are still a great parent! You just got started a little late, that’s all.
Do I Really Need to Choose One Pediatrician?
Yes! Your baby will visit the doctor at least six times in the first year- this doesn’t count any colds or other illnesses that may crop up. Wouldn’t you rather go somewhere where the pediatrician knows you, knows your baby, and has all of your medical records in one place than to a doc-in-the-box?
Let’s Jump In
- Make a list of 3-6 pediatricians. Family and friends will be your best resource for recommendations. Need to widen the net? Use social media channels and website reviews to help you out.
- Make notes about:
- How far are you willing to travel. Remember that you will be going to their office often.
- Which hospitals you would your perfect pediatrician be affiliated with. Check to see which hospitals are convenient to your home and which have the best reputations for pediatric care.
- Whether or not you feel that your insurance company must cover your pediatrician.
Now, Let’s Narrow the List Down
- If you need the pediatrician to be covered by your insurance, then compare the pediatricians on your list to your insurance network.
- Of the remaining pediatricians, remove anyone who doesn’t match your location and hospital needs.
- Check their credentials and experience. Here’s a little help:
- Pediatricians are medical school graduates who then went on to complete training in pediatrics (the care of infants, children, and adolescents.)
- A Board-certified pediatrician has completed med school as well as a three-year residency in pediatrics.
- A doctor who is an AAP member belongs to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- A doctor with a FAAP listing belongs to the AAP and is board certified.
Now You Have a List of Pediatricians and It’s Time to Set up Meetings!
Often pediatricians offer a free interview, prenatal visit, or monthly Meet and Greets. Those who don’t usually charge a relatively small fee that is covered by insurance.
Before You Go in for the Interview
Get clear on how you want to raise and care for your child. You don’t have to figure everything out right now, but if there are topics that you feel strongly about— like breastfeeding, vaccines, or circumcision- note them down before you go in for your first meeting.
Evaluate How the Office Works From the Get-Go
- When you made the appointment, was the wait on the phone acceptable?
- Get chatty while you are in the waiting room. What do the other patients like and dislike about the practice?
- How does the waiting room feel— for both adults and children? Are there any books, games, or toys to distract children?
During the Visit
If there are opinions that you have about your child’s care (as we discussed earlier), now would be a great time to see what the doctor’s take is on them.
This person is going to be your advocate— someone to support you through wonderful and often challenging times. It is important that you are on the same page or at least respect one another’s opinions.
Essential questions you may forget to ask:
- What is the doctor’s availability?
- Does she work with a group practice? Will you get to see her for most visits?
- Who is on-call during off-hours— a nurse or your doctor?
On the Way Home
Take a few minutes to review the meeting. Did you:
- Like the doctor?
- Like the office?
- Feel heard? Rushed? At ease?
Make a Decision
Maybe you made a list of pros and cons for each doctor that you can compare. Maybe you didn’t have to because you work from intuition and knew which one of them was “the one.” Whatever decision-making process works for you, use it now, and make a choice.
After the First Few Visits
It’s time to assess your decision based on your experience with the doctor.
- How do you feel about how the pediatrician interacts with your baby?
- Does your baby feel comfortable with the doctor?
- How do you feel about how the office is run on a day-to-day basis?
If you’re feeling good about it all— great! If not, no worries. Always give a little leeway for a bad day, but if you have a really bad experience or the staff makes a blatant error, you can choose another pediatrician any time.
We Would Love to Be a Part of Your Family
If you are in the process of finding the perfect home for your child’s pediatric experience, we would love to meet with you.
We are committed to providing all kinds of care to people of all ages. And we love to serve whole families. Contact us for an interview today!