Finding a Pediatrician

Finding a good pediatrician that you trust to care for your child is an important decision.  Knowing that a doctor will be available when needed to answer your questions and provide professional advice and quality medical care will be extremely helpful, especially if you are a new parent.  You are the most important advocate for your child’s health, whether it be finding the best treatment for a common cold or taking the necessary steps to deal with a significant medical condition or special need.

Your search should begin around six months of pregnancy.  This may seem a little early, but in an effort to make your search as thorough as possible, it is a good idea to allow enough time to do some footwork.  Here are few tips to starting the process:

Get Recommendations

A good place to start the research process is with recommendations from your family and friends.  When someone you trust recommends a pediatrician that continues to provide good care for her child(ren), you know you’re beginning your search with reputable sources.

Narrow Your Search

After you’ve gathered a few recommendations, do some background research.  Is the pediatrician certified by the American Board of Pediatrics (AAP)?  This means that he has completed residency and passed a specialized exam in pediatrics.  If the pediatrician is a Fellow of the AAP (FAAP) or American Academy of Family Practice (FAAFP), it is a good indicator that he has met current standards for providing pediatric healthcare.  Look for “FAAP” or “FAAFP” in the pediatrician’s title.  When you’ve done the appropriate research, narrow your options down to your top two or three choices.

Consider Insurance

When researching the right pediatrician, it is important to make sure the provider services and the hospital with which the pediatrician is affiliated are covered by your insurance policy.  It may be a good idea to call your insurance company ahead to time to ask any questions you may have about coverage for a certain provider or hospital services.   If you are looking for services outside of insurance coverage, be sure to inquire about payment plan options with the pediatrician’s office.

Schedule Face-to-Face Meetings

When you’ve decided on your top two or three choices, schedule face-to-face meetings with each pediatrician.  Sitting down with a pediatrician will give you a good impression of how the two of you will work together to provide your child the best care.  Is he friendly and conversational?  Does he seem rushed, or is he interested in taking the time to answer your questions?  This also gives you the opportunity to evaluate the office.  Is the waiting area, including toys and books, kept clean?  Do patients seem to have a long wait?  Is the office staff and reception welcoming and helpful?  First impressions are important and you should feel comfortable with the entire office experience.

When you take the time to research your options, you have a better chance of choosing a pediatrician that is best for your child.  Remember, you can never ask too many questions.  You should feel confident in your pediatrician’s ability to provide your child with quality medical care and give you the advice you need to ensure your child is healthy and happy.

Don’t know what questions to ask?  Below is a quick checklist to make sure you’re getting the information you need:

___  How long has the pediatrician been practicing?

___  If your child has a special need or medical concern, has the pediatrician gone through any specialized training needed to appropriately care for your child?

___  Does the pediatrician have a philosophy of childcare?  A pediatrician can provide you advice on breastfeeding, vaccinations, alternative medicine and behavioral or emotional problems.  Make sure you share the same opinion when dealing with concerns like these.

___  Is the office equipped to handle walk-in visits or after hour emergencies?

___  Is the pediatrician or another trusted medical professional in the office on-call for emergencies?

___  Is the pediatrician or another trusted medical professional in the office available to answer phone calls with routine questions?

___  What hospital is affiliated with the pediatrician?

___ Is the pediatrician certified by the American Board of Pediatrics (AAP)?  Is the pediatrician a Fellow of the AAP (FAAP) or American Academy of Family Practice (FAAFP)?  Remember to look for these letters (AAP, FAAP or FAAFP) in the pediatrician’s title.

Share your tried and true advice for finding a good pediatrician.

Sara Peronto is the Marketing Manager at Penfield Children’s Center and Editor of PenfieldBuildingBlocks.org.

Article reviewed by Melissa Hendrickson, RN and Director of Health Services at Penfield Children’s Center.

“Checklist: Choose the Right Pediatrician.” Parents. Parents Network. Web. 2 December 2013. www.parents.com/baby/care/pediatricians-medicine/checklist-choose-the-right-pediatrician/>.

“How to Choose a Pediatrician.” Healthychildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics. 7 August 2013. Web. 2 December 2013.

<http://www.healthychildren.org/english/family-life/health-management/pages/How-To-Choose-A-Pediatrician.aspx>.

“Shopping for a Pediatrician.” WebMD. WebMD, LLC. 26 August 2013. Web. 2 December 2013. <http://www.webmd.com/baby/shopping-for-a-pediatrician?page=2>.

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