Your pediatrician plays a very important role in your child’s life. You’re entrusting your child’s health in his hands, and when you go to him—worried about a fever or a rash, and the dozens of other concerns about your child’s physical and mental development—you need to feel that you can trust him to hear you out, and give the best possible advice.
That’s why it’s so crucial to find a pediatrician that you feel comfortable with. It’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in the first year of your child’s life, and this article can help you make an informed choice.
Ask referrals from parents you trust
Your obstetrician will recommend a pediatrician, but your friends, family and co-workers are most familiar with your parenting style, and the needs and concerns that only fellow moms can understand. So ask people you trust, and whose personality may be close to yours. ‘I ask a lot of questions, and my sister-in-law does that too. So I chose to go to her pediatrician, who is patient and explains things well,’ one mom says.
You can also go to the American Academy of Pediatricians for a list of board-certified professionals.
Choose between a solo or a group practice doctor
Some doctors handle all their patients; others work with other pediatricians who can take over when they’re out of town or on vacation. The choice is up to you: it’s easier to build a rapport with a solo practitioner, who will know all the ins and outs of your child’s case. However, with a group practice, you won’t be at the mercy of that doctor’s schedule (and the long lines at the clinic).
Check how the clinic handles calls
Health emergencies or mommy concerns have a way of happening on off-clinic hours. How will you be able to reach your doctor? Will he give his cell phone number? Is there a set call-in period or will the doctor return calls immediately? Is the doctor open to receiving questions through email? What happens if your child needs immediate medical attention—does he take calls at night? And if you can’t reach him, what are your options?
Examine insurance coverage
Is your doctor and the hospital covered by your insurance provider? What are the fees for standard examinations, checkups and vaccinations?
Trust your instinct
Do you feel comfortable with the doctor? Do you have rapport, and do you feel that he will respond to our questions and concerns with sincerity and compassion? Is the office comfortable? Is the staff kind and helpful?
Photo from health.more4kids.info