One of the biggest concerns moms-to-be have as they get closer to their due date is finding a good pediatrician for their babies. Choosing a pediatrician with whom to trust your child’s care is no easy task and can be downright overwhelming.
Below is some information you can provide to your patients to help them find the right doctor for their family.
Where to find qualified pediatricians
The best way for your patients to begin their pediatrician search is to solicit referrals from parents they trust and/or an obstetrician or midwife. You can also provide these sources to moms to aid in their quest:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics and HealthyChildren.org list the names of board-certified pediatricians. Various search criteria can be entered into the “Find a Pediatrician” tool on HealthyChildren.org.
- Many local medical societies provide referral services to pediatricians in the area who are taking new patients.
- If they live near a major medical center, community hospital, and/or teaching hospital, they can contact those pediatric departments for names of nearby or affiliated pediatricians.
Questions to ask others about their pediatrician
When a friend, colleague, or family member recommends a pediatrician, there are questions moms can ask to learn more about their specific experience with that doctor. This helps moms determine whether that pediatrician will be a good fit for her and her baby. Below are a few examples of questions to ask:
- Do you feel rushed at your appointments?
- How do your children like their pediatrician?
- How are emergencies handled on the weekend or after hours?
- Are you included in the decision-making process?
- Does your pediatrician explain the side effects and risks of various medications?
Once moms have some names of pediatricians they are considering, they should set up a consultation appointment. Though it can be time-consuming, especially if they're interviewing multiple doctors, it’s well worth the effort, as an in-person interview enables parents to gain a first-hand understanding of each pediatrician’s philosophies and personality.
Prior to the interview, moms can get answers to basic questions from the office staff or on the practice’s website, including which insurance they accept and what the office hours are. This will reserve the actual interview for questions specific to the pediatrician.
Below are a few suggestions of what to ask:
- How soon after birth will you see my baby? (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a checkup within 48 to 72 hours after a newborn is discharged from the hospital.)
- When are you available by phone? Email?
- What hospital are you affiliated with?
- What is your educational background and training?
- What hospital would you admit my child to in an emergency?
- Can I make an appointment on short notice if my child is sick?
- Is there a nurse in the office who can answer routine questions?
If visiting a group practice, parents should meet the other doctors since they will likely fill in for one another on occasion.
Making a decision
After the interviews, it’s time to determine who’s the best fit. Moms (and dads) need to go with their instincts about who they felt most comfortable with — whose philosophies and personality was most aligned with theirs, who they trusted, and who they felt was passionate about working with children.
When educational background and experience levels are similar, these are the determining factors that will guide parents in finding the right pediatrician for their family.