Choosing a Pediatrician

What types of doctors see children? Best ways to narrow down the search of different doctors. What kind of things to look for in a practice and what questions to ask a doctor?

Choosing a pediatrician can be a very stressful decision-making process. This relationship is long-term and establishing a rapport with this physician will be important to your child’s well being. Given the importance of this decision, what is the best way to find a good pediatrician? There is always the blind folded Yellow Pages advertisement selection, the quarter toss, or the office you drive by on the way to work. However, many parents will want to make a more informed decision.

First, make a list of possible pediatricians in your area. A good place to start is with the list of providers that accept your health insurance. Your health insurance company can provide this list and it will be sure to tick you off, since the company will limit your options of pediatricians. Most people find having someone from a far-off office control who you can select as a pediatrician incites some frustration and anger. Your pediatrician list can be found in your health provider’s book, website or by calling their customer service line. Keep their number easily accessible; you may want to call it later to yell at them when you get your hospital bill!

Take this list of pediatricians, to your friends and acquaintances who have children and ask who they recommend. They may be able to give you a good idea about the doctor’s community reputation and/or the type of care they provide. The doctor’s reputation is formed by their personality and rapport with patients and families. Ask what they are like as a person. There are many great doctors but not all will fit with your personality. I am the first to admit I am not the doctor for everybody; you will either love me or hate me based on my personality. Ask your friends if they think YOU would like a particular doctor they can recommend.

Ask your obstetrician as well as the nursery staff at the hospital where you will be delivering your baby who they recommend. You should ask these questions well in advance of your due date. This will give you an idea about the pediatrician’s professional reputation and medical skills. Their opinion may be one of the most valuable because they are able to compare all the doctors in the area. There are numerous find-a-doctor websites or phone numbers, but don’t rely on them as a reliable resource as they are typically paid advertisements and are biased.

Various other websites can also provide information about a doctor’s history of medical lawsuits, parental/patient feedback, and cost comparisons. Some of these websites may charge you for the information but you can find out similar information through your insurance company. There are also free physician ranking websites that provide patient comments about doctors and/or practices.

Finally, when you have your list narrowed down, schedule an appointment with some of the pediatric practices to conduct a “prenatal visit” to interview the doctor. Most practices will do a prenatal visit for free or for a nominal fee. This will give you a better idea of which practice will fit you and your family best. For your baby to receive the best medical care, you will need to feel comfortable with the pediatrician and their staff.

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