10 Things to Consider when Choosing a Pediatrician for Your Baby
First-time expectant parents should be on the lookout for a baby doctor well before their baby’s arrival. For some it’s a no brainer, they will simply see any doctor at the pediatric clinic nearest their home. This is fine. These parents have decided that convenience is their number one consideration. Yet for a growing number of parents, nothing but a well researched choice will do, that is why you are here poring over pages upon pages of ideas how to do it.
Let’s get you started:
1.Get a recommendation from your Ob-Gyn. Over the months that you have been seeing your Ob-gyn, you would have formed a relationship such that your doctor already has a good appreciation of your expectations and preferences as a patient. From within his medical community, your doctor can recommend a pediatrician who will fit your requirements.
2.Talk to your family and friends. Ask who took care of their kids’ health when they were babies. If they’re still going to the same doctor, and if they share your views about what constitutes a good choice, then their pediatrician may be worth a try.
3.Consider ONLY board certified pediatricians. There’s a reason why the board is there, otherwise anybody can claim to have all the medical qualifications needed to take care of your child. Board certification assures you that your pediatrician need not rely on his abilities alone. A board certified pediatrician has the expertise of an entire community of child specialists behind him. The American Board of Pediatrics’ website (https://www.abp.org/MOCVerification/VerificationServlet ) will let you verify a pediatrician’s board certification by simply entering his name where indicated. While you’re at it, go further and check for any malpractice suits.
4.Check the pediatrician’s hospital affiliations. You might have to limit yourself to doctors who also practice in the same hospital where you will give birth, so they can see your baby right away even if they will not actually attend the delivery. Besides, it is very likely that you have already evaluated this hospital and its facilities and have found it to be acceptable both for your pregnancy care and for your baby’s health care.
5.Verify your insurance coverage. You will visit your child’s pediatrician quite regularly over the next few months so if you can avoid it, you wouldn’t want to pay every time your baby needs to see a doctor, sick or not.
6.Consider the location of the pediatric clinic. Ideally you would want the clinic to be within comfortable driving distance from your home or place of work. This is especially helpful for emergencies when you do not want to be driving long distances with a sick child.
7.Ask for an interview. It is totally acceptable for expectant parents to want to see the pediatricians they are considering. Prepare to ask about the things that are important to you.
- Does the doctor have kids of his own? Personal parenting experience can do nothing but add credibility to a pediatrician’s professional advice.
- How long does the doctor normally spend with a patient?
- Will you be given time to ask your questions?
- Get his views about breast feeding or bottle feeding
- What does he think about prescribing antibiotics?
- Does he believe in giving vitamins and food supplements?
- Will you be well advised about immunizations?
- What is his practice about circumcision?
- Does he believe in the principles of early learning?
- What child developmental evaluations does he recommend?
- Special considerations like your culture or religious beliefs (if any) and diets you might want to follow for your child.
8.Spend time in the pediatrician’s waiting room. Talk to the other parents. You can learn a lot about the doctor and his practice this way.
- How easy or how hard is it to get appointments?
- How long do they normally wait to be seen?
- Can you get same-day appointments when your child is sick?
- Does the clinic do first-come-first-serve for ill patients?
- How does the doctor get along with their children?
- Are they happy with this baby doctor?
9.Study the clinic/practice itself. Talk to the staff.
- What time do they open/close?
- Is it modern? Is it clean? Are there separate waiting rooms for sick patients and for those who are just in for a well-baby check up?
- Are there plenty of reading materials for the kids and the parents? Television? Toys?
- How are emergencies handled? How are phone calls handled?
- How are bills handled? Do you have to pay or will they send you the bill?
- Do they do their own laboratory tests?
- Is the staff friendly and efficient? What kind of medical training do they have?
- Who takes over from the primary pediatrician when he is away?
10.Go with your instinct. Chances are, halfway thru your “research”, you already have a decision, half-hearted it might be. Always keep your list of pediatricians. No matter how well you think you have chosen, you might still need/want a second opinion in some cases.
This Article is written by Lena Butler, contributor of Health & Drug Testing Information Center.