Finding the Right Pediatrician for Your Child
There’s no single model for a pediatrician that fits all families. While a friend or family member can recommend a pediatrician, he or she may not necessarily be the ideal choice for your child. A great way to get some candidates is to ask your obstetrician, who will know a number of well-respected pediatricians in your community. Ideally, you’ll want to settle on one before your child is born. However, if you’re looking to change physicians, have moved to a new area, or are still trying to make up your mind, be sure to gather the following information before making a final decision:
The most wonderful pediatrician in the world won’t be able to help you, or will be extremely expensive, if they are out-of-network for your insurance plan. Be sure to call the practice office, or search online, to confirm whether or nor your potential pediatrician is in-network for you.
Make sure that any pediatrician you are looking at is board certified. This is a minimum requirement for any candidate you are considering.
It’s important to be completely practical when choosing a pediatrician. Choose a physician/practice with an office that’s close to your home. Ask if they’re directly reachable by phone or email, and how to contact the office when your child has a medical issue that occurs when offices are closed. Find out who to turn to when your pediatrician is unavailable or out of town.
Good pediatricians will not only answer all of your questions but also ask you several questions about your child. If your child accompanies you on your visit, watch how the physician interacts with him or her and seeks to establish a connection.
It’s important to know that you and your pediatrician are on the same page when it comes to certain issues/situations. Make sure that what is important to you is important to them. For example, how often should your baby be scheduled for checkups? What age is best to move away from the pacifier? When is it time to take the step from diapers to potty training? The more the pediatrician is aligned with your views—or can show you why they believe their position results in a better outcome for your child—the better the relationship you’ll have.
Facilities and staff
Is the practice facility inviting and clean? Is the staff friendly? Do you feel welcome? While your relationship with the pediatrician is your top priority, the environment can be a significant factor in your overall comfort level.
If you have a child with special needs, be sure to ask the pediatrician about his or her access to a subspecialty group that focuses on your child’s needs, or connections to a local children’s hospital.
Follow your feelings
When you meet a pediatrician that gives off a certain vibe—positive or negative—go with how you feel. If your instincts tell you something is right or wrong, listen. That gut feeling is your superpower as a parent—don’t ignore it.
Your child’s medical care deserves to be in the very best hands that are available to you. Don’t be shy about asking a lot of questions or checking references. A good pediatrician understands just how much you are invested in your child’s wellbeing, and will be open to earning your complete trust.