How to Decide on a Pediatrician for Your Child

When you may need to find a Pediatrician

First time parents should start looking for a pediatrician when the new mom is about 6 months pregnantAdopting

parents should look for a pediatrician as soon as they know they have a prospective child.

You may need to find a new Pediatrician when your Pediatrician retires or for any reason is no longer able to care for your child.

A move to a new city will mean finding a new pediatrician for your children.

How to find who to interview

Ask family, friends and neighbors which pediatricians they use or know of that they can recommend to you.

Some communities offer physician hotlines to help you find a doctor, look in your phone book for these services.
Location

It is important first of all that your child’s pediatrician is close to where you live. When your child is sick, you do want to be able to get to the pediatrician quickly.

Checking out the office

Please take the time to visit any pediatrician before you decide on which one you will use. It is important to not only ask questions that you may have about office policy, but you need to see the office, the waiting room and get a chance to ask those in the waiting room what they think of the pediatrician. Look to see if the waiting room and office areas are clean and child friendly. Observe how the staff treats other parents and children are they friendly and helpful?

Ask if there are any other physicians who may be attending your child on appointments. Some offices have several physicians that rotate duty and your child may see multiple doctors. Find out what other staff members may be seeing your child on visits, like nurses, technicians, or assistants.

Ask to see a schedule of expected fees and accepted insurance carriers.
Find out how to make appointments, cancel appointments and any procedures involving appointments. Ask what are the routine well baby/child appointments and how far in advance these can be scheduled.

Ask what payments they will accept and any fees associated (late, nsf etc)

Find out if the office has any special services like nurse hot-lines for questions that come up regarding care of your child. They may have prescription refill lines to call for faster service.

Ask if the office has any on-site diagnostic services like laboratory or x-ray services.

Questions to ask the Pediatrician

Ask what training he/she has completed and ask about any degrees, licenses, or certificates (these are usually displayed on a wall). Ask about any affiliations or awards received.

Find out how long they have been in practice and where they have been practicing.

Ask if he/she has a specialty.

Find out about office hours and how to get assistance during off office hours. Get a list of all contact numbers including phone numbers and pager numbers.

Ask which hospitals or clinics the pediatrician works at

During the interview you will be able to make note of how friendly the Pediatrician is, and if you feel at ease talking to him/her. It is important that you feel comfortable asking questions. You should feel that your pediatrician is willing to take as much time with you as you need him or her to.

One thing that I have always found important is language. I have had occasion when we belonged to a health plan that we did not always have the opportunity to pick our doctor and were seen by many different physicians. I had the experience at this time to be seen by doctors I had not interviewed and were unfamiliar with them. I found it difficult to deal with doctors who spoke with heavy accents or did not speak my language very well. If the office tells you that there are more than one pediatrician working with their patients, you should ask to have the chance to meet with all pediatricians that are assigned to the office.

I also wanted to know that my child was more than a “fee” to the pediatrician; I wanted to know that he/she cared about the well-being of my child.

Summary:

If you are a first time parent, you need to start looking for a pediatrician in the sixth month of your pregnancy. Adoptive parents should look for a pediatrician as soon as they have a prospective child. Location is important as you want to be near your pediatrician’s office when your child in sick and need to be seen quickly. It is important to ask for references from family, friends and neighbors so that you can gather a list of pediatricians to interview. Take a look around the office to observe how clean and child-friendly the environment is. Notice how the staff responds to other parents and children. Ask those who are waiting to be seen, how they feel about the pediatrician and staff members. Look for as ask about the training, any certificates and licenses the pediatrician may have. Find out what other staff members may be seeing your child. Ask about office procedures, in regards to appointment making, routine visits, how far in advance you can schedule routine care. Ask office staff if they have any special services that are offered. Find out what insurance plans are accepted and what payment methods they will accept.

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