If you are expecting a baby, have an insurance change, or have relocated to a new area, one of the first questions that may come to mind is ‘how do I choose a pediatrician for my child?’ Obviously we want the best for our children. Therefore, choosing a physician you trust and can place confidence in caring for your children is essential.
What is a Pediatrician and why is having one for your child important?
A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in the care of children from birth through young adulthood (usually ages 18-21, depending on the physician). Finding the right pediatrician to partner with in the care of your child is especially important for parents of new babies, as you will have multiple visits with your pediatrician during your child’s first year of life. Of course, it is equally important to find the right doctor for your older children, as the pediatrician will partner with you on all aspects of your child’s health, growth, and development. Therefore, finding a doctor that you are comfortable with is key.
Below are some suggestions to assist you in making this important decision:
- Ask around. A good start may be to ask your neighbors, friends, or co-workers. Sometimes, calling your insurance company may provide some helpful leads, especially if you are new to the area.
- Assess the pediatrician’s office location and hours. Does the office have evening or weekend hours? How close is the office to your home or work? Having a partner for your child’s health who is accessible is invaluable for both well and sick visits.
- Same day appointments. What is the policy for same day appointments? If your child is sick, or if you just have some specific concerns, will you be able to see your doctor the same day that you call?
- What about reaching the office after hours? Find out who you talk to for any after hours emergencies or questions. Most pediatricians have an on call system set up to help parents deal with any evening or weekend health issues.
- Insurance Plan. Is the doctor that you are considering on your insurance plan? If not, and you still want to take your child to the pediatrician, you should check with your insurance company about out-of- pocket fees, should you choose a provider that may not be in network.
- Are the doctors all Board Certified? All physicians need to go through rigorous testing to become certified, so make sure that the doctor you want to see has become certified.
- How many providers are in the group and will I see my doctor? Many pediatricians are part of a group practice, with anywhere from 1-10 partners in the office. Talk to the doctor to see their office policy about seeing patients.
The above suggestions are only a start. The best way to determine if a particular pediatrician is the right partner for your family is to schedule a “Meet and Greet” with the doctor. Taking some time to sit down with the doctor and ask questions can provide a chance to both interact with the doctor and see the office and staff. Most offices offer this free meeting, but make sure to call your prospective pediatrician’s office to ensure that they do offer this. It truly can be the best way to interact with the provider before you take that next step. This is your chance to question the doctor on his or her philosophy and approach to pediatric medicine, as well as ensure they are the right “fit” for you and your family.
I encourage all prospective families to set up a meet and greet with me before deciding on my becoming their child’s pediatrician. I do truly enjoy these opportunities, as it allows me to interact and learn more about the families and assures me that they are making as informed a choice as possible.
I hope this helps and am more than happy to address any questions or comments you may have on this topic.