By Marye Audet
Finding a great pediatrician is a bit like trying to find a bathing suit for a last minute pool party – you really need to try them all, but doing so isn’t very practical. Although it is best to find a pediatrician when you don’t actually need one and have time to leisurely research each one, that’s not normally when you get around to it. Generally, you’ll find yourself frantically calling numbers from your insurance provider’s list when your child has spiked a fever that rivals the temperature of Houston in August.
That’s not the best way to go about finding a pediatrician.
If you are expecting a baby, it’s a good idea to begin looking for a pediatrician just as you begin your third trimester. This will give you time to research, make a list of possible pediatricians, and interview each of them. Be sure to ask them about their policies regarding hospital visits after your baby is born, or home visits if you plan to have a home birth.
Ask People You Know
Certainly the best way to find a great pediatrician is by asking the people you know who they go to and who they’d recommend. It doesn’t really matter what a pediatrician’s credentials are if he is terrible with children or his office staff is rude. Getting a reference from a friend or co-worker who has dealt with him personally is the best way to get the straight story about his practice.
Check with Your Insurance Company
Most insurance companies have a list of approved health providers, but an increasing number of companies also have a concierge type specialist whose job is to match you up with qualified doctors.
You just let the concierge know what you are looking for and various specifics that include:
- Male or female
- Hospitals he’s affiliated with
These are examples – there are a variety of other specifics. The concierge researches the doctors for you and gives you a list of doctors that meet your criteria. It’s that easy!
American Academy of Pediatrics
If you can’t find someone you know who can give you a reference you can check with the American Academy of Pediatrics Pediatrician Referral Service at healthychildren.org. You’ll be able to put in your address and what you are looking for and get a list of local pediatricians that fit that description.
Arrange a Meeting
If you have time, it’s a good idea to make an appointment to just spend some time talking to the pediatrician. Ask questions and make note of the answers.
- How many doctors practice with you?
- Are there times when my child will see someone other than you?
- What is your pediatric background?
- Do you have a special area of interest?
- Which hospital do you use?
- How do I reach you after hours?
- How long have you been practicing?
- Is there an email option for communicating with you and your staff?
- Is there an electronic record and website that allows you to get test results, make appointments, and fill out necessary forms?
You also will want to ask them questions about things you feel strongly about. For example, if you prefer to use herbs and natural methods for healing you’ll want a doctor that feels natural healing is an acceptable alternative. If you believe in postponing vaccinations or forgoing them completely you’ll need a doctor that is on board with your philosophies.
Do They Inspire Confidence?
Always go with your gut feeling. Does the pediatrician inspire confidence in you? Are you comfortable talking to him/her? If not, then you should keep looking. There’s nothing worse than dealing with a doctor that you don’t trust.
Once you’ve found a pediatrician and have taken your child to them a few times you’ll have a better idea about their practice. If at any point your gut instinct tells you it’s time to move on don’t be afraid to do so. Having a good relationship with your child’s pediatrician, and being able to talk to them freely, is an important part of keeping your child healthy.