by Patricia Hughes
Choosing your baby’s doctor is a big decision. You may want to start thinking about it and checking around before your baby is born. This person will care for your baby for well visits and through illness. You need to find a doctor that has a similar philosophy about infant care and that you are able to communicate with comfortably.
Finding a Pediatrician
There are several sources of information about pediatricians. One good place to get a recommendation is from friends or family members. Ask your friends with babies and young children about their pediatricians. Also ask your obstetrician (OB) for suggestions.
If you are new to the area or don’t have friends with young children, you can ask your health care provider for a recommendation. If you are pregnant, you will be asked for the name of your pediatrician in the hospital. If this is your first pregnancy, the time to shop for a doctor is before the baby arrives.
You will want to be sure the doctor accepts your insurance. Check your provider directory to be sure the doctors on your list accept your policy. Don’t go by the book alone. Call the office and ask if they take your insurance. Provider information has a way of changing faster than the books are updated.
Once you have recommendations for a few physicians, you can schedule interviews to meet the top doctors on your list. Most will offer a free consultation to prospective patients. Others may charge a fee for the consultation. Ask about this when you schedule the appointment. The interview gives you the opportunity to ask questions and get a feel for the doctor’s personality and philosophy. Bring a list of questions with you, so you won’t forget what you wanted to ask.
While you are waiting, take a look at the waiting area. Are there separate areas for sick kids? Is the waiting area comfortable with toys and books for the patients waiting to see the doctor? If you have the opportunity to talk to another parent in the waiting area, seize the chance. Ask her about her family’s experience with the doctor and if she is happy with the care received.
Pay attention to the staff during your visit. Are they pleasant and helpful or do they seem overworked and unfriendly? When you call for appointments and check in for your visits, you will be dealing with the staff. A great doctor can soon seem less than wonderful if she has a crummy staff.
Questions to ask
- Do you have a specialty?
- Will my child see you, or do you work with other doctors?
- At what hospital do you have privileges?
- Do you take my insurance?
- How do you handle phone calls/communication with patients?
- What happens if I have an emergency after hours?
- Is it possible to get same day sick visits?
- How long is the typical well baby visit?
- What is your policy for late arrivals?
- Is there a separate waiting area for sick patients?
- How do you feel about breastfeeding?
The answers to the doctor’s questions will give you a feel for his personality as well as how the office works. Is the doctor friendly and happy to talk or does he seem rushed? Do you feel comfortable talking with him? What is your gut instinct telling you? Follow your gut and you can’t go wrong.
Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.