A good pediatrician is one of a parent’s best assets. Pediatricians are trained to be experts on everything from infant and child health and development, to nutrition and behavioral issues. A pediatrician will help to guide you from the moment of your child’s birth until your child is young adult. Finding the right pediatrician for you and your child takes effort, but the payoff is well worth it. Here are some tips to help guide your search:
Start early. Begin looking for a pediatrician while you are pregnant or, if you already have a pediatrician, as soon as you know you need to switch.
Ask your current physicians for referrals and ask friends and family if they have a pediatrician they would recommend.
Use a physician finder tool, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics “Find a Pediatrician” tool, which will help you find pediatricians in your area who are board certified. These pediatricians have undergone rigorous testing to prove they are qualified to be pediatricians. You may also want to check with your local hospitals, which may have a list of pediatricians in the area.
Find out if the pediatrician is covered by your health insurance.
Make sure the doctor’s office ours are compatible with your schedule.
Ask what will happen if your physician is unavailable to see your child. Does your physician have partners or a backup physician who will step in when they are away?
If you child has a sudden illness or injury, you may need to get an appointment on short notice. Confirm that you will be able to see your physician or another physician for a last minute appointment.
Sometimes you may not be sure if your child’s condition requires a visit to the physician or you may have a non-urgent question about your child’s care. Find out whether a nurse or the physician will answer such questions during office hours.
Ask about the doctor’s policies on handling afterhours calls or emergencies. Fevers and injuries can happen at anytime, so it’s important to know you can reach a doctor if you need their advice.
If your child must be hospitalized, find out where your physician would like them to go. Some physicians may be able see your child in a particular hospital, but not in others.
Make an appointment to interview the doctor. Ask them about any concerns you may have, and make sure they are able to answer your questions in a way you understand. Try to get a sense of their style and whether you feel comfortable talking them.
During your phone calls and interview visit to the physicians office, pay attention to they way you are treated by the office staff and nurses. They will often be the first people you speak with when your child is sick or injured, make sure they are professional, courteous, and helpful.