How To Choose A Pediatrician (A Mom's Guide)

How To Choose A Pediatrician (A Mom’s Guide)

how-to-choose-pediatrician

I must admit: I’m guilty of having gone through a couple of pediatricians.

It took me awhile to get it right.

Why?

Well, I think it’s because I didn’t take finding a doctor for my son as seriously as it is. I remember being asked at one of my pregnancy check ins with a nurse, which doctor I wanted to take my child to?

I was so focused on making it through my pregnancy, that the medical care of my child wasn’t even on my mind, but it should have been.

I didn’t even think about that fact that my son would be tended to by a doctor during our hospital stay. I was so overly focused on myself and my health needs.

This led me to make a rushed, uninformed decision, and it left me feeling very unhappy in the long run.

After going through some medical issues with my son and through two pediatric practices, I wish the doctor that I use now for him was who I used right from the get go.

It would have made life much easier and I’m fairly confident I wouldn’t have been nearly as stressed as I was during that difficult period if my son was under her care.

Not sure how to even go about choosing a pediatrician?

No worries. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the matter.

When Should You Start Looking For A Pediatrician? 

Must like looking into a childcare provider, you should start looking for a pediatrician around the second trimester of your pregnancy.

This leaves you with plenty of time to conduct interviews, take on research, and really narrow down the providers before making a final, informed decision.

How To Find Names Of Doctors Near You

You should try to find a doctor within a 20 minute radius of your home.

It just makes the car ride more bearable when you’re toting your baby there when they feel down in the dumps, or even when they are very little.

In order to find a doctor near you, you could check with the following:

American Academy Of Pediatrics

The AAP is full of highly recommended, board certified pediatric doctors.

You can visit their website and peruse helpful medical articles and resources in addition to finding a doctor nearby to check out. 

Your Insurance Company

If you call your insurance company, you will be directed to a website or given a list of names of providers who are not only near you, but covered under your insurance plan and who specialize in pediatrics.

Friends & Family

 Your friends and family members will often be your best resources: they have been through the doctor search already and they understand how taxing it can be to find the right one.

They may also have other recommendations for you, based on word of mouth from their friends as well.

OB Nurse

When you sit down and go over the specifics of your labor and delivery plan, your OB nurse will hand you a packet of things to consider.

They often times will provide a large list of physicians in the nearby area of recommended pediatricians.

Phone numbers, addresses, and insurance information will also be available on this resource to help you narrow down your choices. 

Key Credentials For Pediatricians

When it comes to choosing a pediatrician based on their key credentials, a great pediatrician should have/be the following:

  • Board certified. This is voluntary and means that your pediatrician has gone above and beyond what is required of them in order to practice medicine. It means that a physician is going to continue to expand their knowledge and expertise, or focus on a subspecialty.
  • AAP. After completing their residency, pediatricians must become board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. 
  • Specialties. I found it reassuring to have a pediatrician who is also licensed in subspecialties, such as pediatric cardiology or pediatric rheumatology. This also requires additional training and passing certification exams.

Things To Look For In A Good Pediatrician 

Certain characteristics separate a good pediatrician from a great pediatrician. They include:

  • Bedside manner. There is nothing more frustrating than having a doctor who speaks above your head, in terms that you don’t understand. Look for someone who is friendly, down to Earth, and can carry on a conversation that can be followed by anyone.
  • Parent. I will only see doctors who are parents themselves. There seems to be a mutual respect and understanding between parents and it makes the doctor seem more relatable.
  • Good with children. Your baby needs to feel comfortable with your doctor. I understand they won’t always love going to the office (shots can be pretty memorable events), but your child should feel comfortable being around them based on their body language, receptiveness, tone of voice, and also how they interact with you.
  • Punctual. No one is perfect, but I can’t stress enough how important it is that a pediatrician is timely. A five to ten minute delay isn’t a huge deal, but a half hour long wait could be torturous with a waiting baby, especially if they are cranky and sick.
  • Clean. The first office I visited grossed me out. The floors were filthy, the waiting room wasn’t segmented (sick children should be on a separate side), and I had qualms about putting my naked baby on the examination table. A great pediatrician’s office shouldn’t worry you!
  • Helpful. When I had concerns about my son, my pediatrician offered helpful tips and tricks, additional services, and made lots of recommendations. When he was a baby, she provided us with lots of free samples of formula and plenty of coupons.
  • Understanding. When you become a parent, you often get hunches about your child’s health and behavior. At the first office I took my son to, my concerns were often dismissed and not taken seriously. It turned out I was right later on, and I did have a cause for concern. Always go with your gut, and stick by a pediatrician who actually listens to what you say, what you want, and how you feel.
  • Friendly office staff. You’ll have to converse with the office staff just as much as the doctor sometimes. It’s nice when you have someone warm, pleasant, and understanding to talk to when scheduling appointments and relaying questions. 

Tips & Questions For Interviewing Pediatricians

Many pediatricians will make time to meet with you since you would be a new client.

They’ll go over policies and procedures, and will sit a moment or two to field your questions or concerns. If you do decide to take the interview route, generate a list of several questions that you really want addressed.

Their time is very valuable and needs to be spent with sick patients, so try not to suck up too much of time. Five to ten minutes is plenty of time to get your answers.

You’ll learn quickly what kind of personality and demeanor the doctor has, as well as their philosophy on medicine, behavior, and nutrition. You’ll also learn about their qualifications and can ask how long they have been in the pediatrics field.

Here are some other questions you should be sure to ask:

  • 1
    Are you part of a group practice? This is important to ask because you may be seeing a wide range of doctors in this case, and not just the one you are interviewing with.
  • 2
    How are emergencies handled? This is especially important since new parents are loaded with questions and concerns, that can’t always wait to be addressed the next day during business hours. So, is your pediatrician open to helping out? Do they want you to go to an emergency room? Is there a nurse on call to field your questions?
  • 3
    Are you yourself a parent? This was so important to me because it showed me that they truly understood what it meant to be cautious and concerned.
  • 4
    What is your philosophy? This helps you understand if the doctor prefers to take a holistic approach to healing, how they feel about circumcision, breastfeeding, and so on. 
  • 5
    Which hospital are you affiliated with? This is important because some parents only want their child going to certain hospitals in the area.

While an interview may not tell you everything there is to know about your doctor, it will definitely shed some light upon their practice, their personality, and their expertise. 

Wrapping Up

If I did my homework right off the bat, I wouldn’t have had to switch around to different practices.

For me, the third time's a charm. But, it is pretty nice to get things right so your doctor is familiar with your baby from birth (and vice versa).

Consider some of the interviewing tips and questions above, and be sure to look for some of the outlined qualities and characteristics in a good, highly trained and professional pediatric doctor.

Kate Trout
 

Hi there, I'm Kate! I started Maternity Glow to be a place for new and expecting moms to come to for practical pregnancy advice, parenting tips, and baby care tricks.

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