9 Things to Look for in a PediatricianJuly 25, 2017
By Jessica Vician
Before you leave the hospital with your baby, you will complete your first well-baby doctor appointment. In the first year of their life, you will have seven more of these appointments, so you will want to ensure you are comfortable with your baby's pediatrician.
In choosing a pediatrician or family doctor for your child, first ensure you are confident in their professional ability to diagnose and treat your baby. Additionally, as stated in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books:
You have the right to choose a provider that you are comfortable with and who responds to your questions and concerns in a compassionate and professional manner.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, many women start looking for a pediatrician in the second trimester of pregnancy. Once you have started your search, here are a few things to consider:
- Are they up-to-date on their certification from the American Board of Pediatrics? They should be recertified every seven years.
- Do they take your insurance and offer payment plans?
- How does the doctor or their practice handle emergencies on weekends or after hours?
- What happens if the doctor is unavailable when you need a last-minute appointment—is a nurse practitioner available?
- Which hospital would the doctor send your child to in an emergency? Are those hospitals nearby your home or work and are you comfortable with those options?
- What are the office hours? Are they convenient for you and/or your parenting partner?
- Here's a great question from Healthy Children: "If your child ever develops a complex illness that requires he care of one or more specialists, will your pediatrician coordinate care among all the doctors providing treatment?"
- If you need religious or ethical accommodations, will your doctor accommodate? For example, is circumcision/non-circumcision an issue for your doctor?
- If you're struggling to breastfeed, will your doctor refer you to a lactation consultant for help?
These are just some questions to ask or consider when choosing a pediatrician for your baby. Consider scheduling a 15-minute interview with two or three doctors to discuss these questions and get an idea of your chemistry. Once you make an educated decision, you'll feel much more comfortable and ready for parenthood!