For first-time parents, or parents who are looking for new pediatric care, choosing a pediatrician is a big decision. The doctor you pick will be the one you count on not only for routine well visit appointments, but the person that guides you through the inevitable scary high fever episodes, fast-moving rashes and the multitude of other sudden ailments that tend to befall kids. How do you find the best pediatrician for you?
Eileen Bens, a nurse practitioner at Suburban Pediatric Associates, and Jeff Drasnin, a pediatrician at ESD Pediatric Group, understand how overwhelming this process can be. Here they provide their suggestions for finding a pediatrician you’ll be happy with for the long haul.
Talk with other parents who you trust and respect for their suggestions. Find out why they like their doctor and or why they don’t, says Bens. Getting a short list to work from gives you a more manageable number of options than the fifty pages Google provides.
Once your list is narrowed down, do your homework to make certain the doctors you are interested in are qualified. Where did they get their degree? Have they been certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics? This may seem like an obvious step, but it will help you quickly eliminate doctors you won’t want to consider.
3. Location and Accessibility
When you have a new baby, you visit the doctor’s office a lot. How far is the office from your home, work or daycare? What is the after-hours call policy? Do they offer same day appointments for sick kids? Will you have access to another doctor if yours is unavailable? Some offices also offer online resources like a patient portal where parents can get questions answered, schedule appointments and access information like vaccination records. Not only does this technology make caring for your child easier, but Dr. Drasnin also believes it is a good indicator of how progressive the office is, saying “If you’re dragging your feet on technology, what else are you dragging your feet on?”
Find out what areas the doctor specializes in and if they are comfortable with special needs issues. “Whether or not you have a kid with special needs, it makes sense to choose a pediatrician who is comfortable with that,” explains Dr. Drasin. Not all special needs are revealed during pregnancy ultrasounds, and if you plan to have other children, this might be a possible concern. It’s reassuring to know your pediatrician can handle any situation that may arise.
5. In person visit
Interview doctors while you are still pregnant. A good pediatrician will be happy to answer your questions and chat about any concerns you have. Only by meeting in person can you get a feel for how the office runs and the doctor’s personality. Your doctor will do much more than just administer medicine. He or she will also follow your child’s growth and development, discuss behavior and answer any question that you have (no matter how silly or insignificant it may feel to you). “You have to be able to trust the information you get about your child,” says Bens. While many factors come into play when choosing a pediatrician, at the end of the day, you and your doctor are partners in the health and well-being of your child. Developing a good relationship with this professional starts with your first meeting.
Finding the right pediatrician may take some time, but the effort you initially invest in the process will pay dividends later. And – if you find that you have chosen someone that you are not comfortable with, don’t hesitate to make a switch. Your child’s health is too important to leave in the hands of someone with whom you don’t have complete confidence.