How to Find a Pediatrician

How to Find a Pediatrician

Q. Where And When Should I Start Looking For A Pediatrician?

A. You should begin searching for a pediatrician in the final months of pregnancy and both parents should be present at the interview. When choosing a pediatrician, a good place to start is by asking your trusted friends for a recommendation. Your friends will tell you if they are happy with their pediatrician. This will move you right to the winner's circle of finalists. Choose among the friends who share a similar philosophy as you. You should ask why your friends recommend their doctor, and how long have they been with that doctor. It is very important that you find a pediatrician who you feel completely comfortable with. If you like your OB midwife and share similar philosophy with him her this is also a good place to start. As a new parent you should be able to ask them anything, no matter how trivial in may seem.

What To Look For In A Pediatrician

Don't just choose the first pediatrician you meet; interview a few candidates. A good pediatrician has more than just the core competencies of disease treatment, which are reactive measures. Your pediatrician should also be knowledgeable in proactive qualities such as disease prevention and child development. Your pediatrician should also be warm, compassionate, and open minded to your thoughts and feelings, and share similar views. Make sure your insurance covers the pediatrician you want to choose. Make sure you interview all potential pediatricians, and verify that the pediatrician you interview will actually be the one who sees your child. There should be no charge for this interview consultation. Make sure your pediatrician supports breastfeeding, and has either a lactation consultant on staff or a list of them that can support you during the early stages of breastfeeding.

Items to look for when you interview a potential pediatrician:

Always visit the office and do an interview with the doctors before making a decision. Look around the office. Is it clean? Is there a separate waiting area for "sick" and "well" kids? Some pediatric practices have only one waiting area. This causes "sick" kids to be in mixed the same waiting area as "well" kids waiting for their regular monthly checkups, vaccinations etc... Young kids are always putting toys in their mouths, and having sick patients play with a toy that "well" patient plays with is a very easy way for germs to spread.

While at the office, talk to the staff. Are they friendly and accommodating? As a parent you will be dealing the pediatricians staff on a regular basis the first few years of your child's life. It is important that the staff listen to your concerns and questions. Look for a practice that will accommodate your schedule when making appointments to see the doctor.

Determine if you want a male or female doctor. As kids get older, they tend to prefer doctors who are of their same sex. Find out what is their policy on vaccination and, if needed, their experience in uncircumcised child (If you choose to not circumcise your child, this is very important. Many people in this country just don't know how to care for a uncut penis.) Find out if he she is open to accommodate your desire to wait for the vaccination or will allow you not to vaccinate at all.

Ask the pediatrician if he/she is familiar and open to alternative forms of healing such as homeopathic remedies and or herbal medicine. Often a gassy or colicky baby can be cured with simple chamomile. Explore the doctor's attitudes about things that are important to you: If you use complementary or alternative health methods, or traditional health practices, ask about the pediatrician's knowledge and acceptance of these. If you have important cultural, religious or moral beliefs related to your child's health care, express these to the pediatrician and observe the response.

Specific Questions to ask:

  • What is the pediatrician's educational background?
  • How long has she been in practice?
  • Is she board-certified?
  • How does she keep up-to-date with medical knowledge?
  • Does she have any special medical interests?
  • How do you reach him for routine questions or urgent problems?
  • Does he have specific telephone call-in times?
  • Can you reach him by e-mail?
  • Does he have a web site?
  • If your child is ill, will she usually be seen in the office?
  • When would she be referred to the emergency room?
  • If your child needs to be hospitalized, what hospital would the doctor use, and who would be responsible for your child's care?
  • Who covers the pediatrician when he is away?
  • When is the first newborn exam in the hospital?
  • Will your pediatrician be doing it?
  • When is the first newborn office visit recommended?
  • For breast-feeding babies, this should be within the first week of age. Formula fed babies may be seen first at 1-2 weeks. Is the office staff supportive and knowledgeable about breast-feeding?
  • What is the pediatrician's opinion about newborn circumcision?
  • How often are subsequent visits?
  • What is the physician's recommended vaccine schedule?
  • On Your Visits:
  • How well does the doctor listen?
  • Do your questions get cut off, or do you feel rushed?
  • Does the doctor treat you as a partner in the care of your child?
  • Do you feel a sense of trust in the doctor?
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Written by: Sheila Guerrero See other articles by Sheila Guerrero
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