New Parent Help: Choosing a Pediatrician
When it comes to parenting, there are lots of things to worry about. Between tipping furniture and organizing safe visits, it can seem like a pretty daunting responsibility. Today, let’s talk about one of the most important decisions facing modern parents: choosing a pediatrician.
Why Worry About Choosing a Pediatrician?
In today’s busy world, why would a parent need to worry about choosing a pediatrician? You can usually find a list of available doctors fairly easily with a simple Google search. Well, believe it or not, this is a much more complicated question than it may seem.
Every family should have a doctor who is right for their needs. By this, we mean that, when choosing a pediatrician, you should find someone with similar values and priorities as you. If you butt heads on all of their assessments, you’ll never be quite satisfied with the level of treatment your family is receiving, no matter the doctor’s credentials. Both your family and your doctor should respect this process.
Sure, you can always change your doctor at will, but it is also critical that your little ones bond with, and trust, their doctors. For this reason, it’s best to do the research and find someone you are comfortable with as early as possible.
In situations in which a child is very sick, your trusted doctor could be helping you to make life-changing decisions. Alternately, they could completely miss a potentially fatal issue. So we’ll say it again: choosing a pediatrician is serious business.
Recommendations from Friends and Neighbors
So where does a new parent begin? In this situation, your social network can be invaluable. Don’t be afraid to ask trusted friends, family members and co-workers for their opinions. After all, every family and every patient has different needs and wants when it comes to choosing a pediatrician.
Keeping this in mind, you also shouldn’t take your friends’ word as gospel. Instead, take their advice into consideration, but do your own research. If a friend has a very negative report about a certain doctor, it’s quite possible they simply had a bad experience. Check for yourself and get additional opinions.
In this case, we recommend building a list of at least three candidates. In the case where you cannot get three personal recommendations, simply refer to the American Academy of Pediatrics' referral site.
Do Your Homework
Remember, you don’t have to simply go to a certain doctor on advice from friends. It is quite common, and even recommended, to do your homework first. To start, many of the big questions can be answered with a simple phone call to the doctor’s office. The staff can usually provide answers to questions such as:
- Does the doctor accept my health insurance plan?
- Do you offer same day sick appointments?
- Where are you located and what are your operational hours?
- Can someone help me after hours?
- What hospitals is the doctor affiliated with?
- How many doctors are in the office? Is this a solo practice or is the doctor part of a group?
- This one is especially pertinent during COVID-19 times: are there separate sick and well waiting rooms?
These are just some sample basic questions. Feel free to expand the list.
Interview Your Doctor
After the basics are covered, you’ll probably want to set up an interview with the pediatrician that you are considering. This is an informal meeting where you and the doctor can get to know each other.
When choosing a pediatrician, it is crucial that you find a doctor that either shares your views, or can provide reassuring reasons why he or she might object to your views. As you will be interacting with this doctor for years to come, it is important that you are comfortable with them and their advice. It will simply make the process easier.
Some of these questions could pertain to breastfeeding recommendations, potty training, sleep habits, alternative medicine, co-sleeping, you name it! There are so many questions facing new parents. When choosing a pediatrician, it is imperative to have a medical practitioner that can dispel fears and offer sound advice. This can vary from person-to-person, but it’s an important question for every parent.
Be sure to pick a doctor that works best for your specific needs and lifestyle.