There comes a time when you may find yourself looking for your first pediatrician, or you may need to find a new pediatrician. There are many reasons you can find yourself looking at different types of pediatric doctors. Your child’s well-being is dependent on making the right choice, so the process can be a bit overwhelming. Knowing what you’re looking for in your child’s new doctor can make the process go more smoothly.
Looking for the Right Pediatrician for Your Kids
In this article:
Gather a Pool
It’s helpful to compile a list of potential pediatricians. Some doctors on your list may be too booked to take on new patients. Others may just not click with you when you meet. You may decide a practice is too far away from regular visits. That’s why a list with several names is good insurance.
Asking local friends and family for recommendations is an obvious place to start. If you’re a new parent, don’t be afraid to ask questions. “What does a pediatrician do?” It may seem too obvious to even ask, but the specifics matter. If you’re unclear, ask your current practitioner or obstetrician. This research gives you a better sense of the type of care your baby and older children will receive. Check-ups, vaccinations, sick care, and referral methods. These can all vary from practice to practice.
There are different types of pediatric doctors, each with his or her own specialty. The doctor’s pediatric practice website is a likely place to find out more information. This includes information on the pediatrician’s specialty and training background. It’ll also list the qualifications of supporting staff.
So you’ve gathered personal recommendations and looked at the doctors’ websites — great! But, you may feel you want to expand the pool of possibilities. Next, check the extensive database provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). When doing so, make sure to determine which hospitals each doctor is affiliated with. In case of emergency or frequent specialized care, a hospital that’s far away can be a deal-breaker.
Parent, Know Thyself!
It’s natural to worry about what a pediatrician’s stance is on various medical topics. But first, it’s important to do your own research and form your own opinions. For example, you may discover you feel strongly about breastfeeding. That’s why it can be helpful to have a doctor who will be in your corner with nutrition information and tips.
Circumcision and vaccination schedules are other hot-button issues these days. Do you have questions about the health implications of these practices? It’s important your pediatrician considers your concerns and explains her positions.
New parents often feel insecure about their own opinions on child rearing. Issues can range from limiting TV time to homeschooling. Sometimes, doctors have unexpectedly vehement positions, too! Take the time to ask how a potential doctor feels about something that’s important to you. Perhaps you’re a travel soccer coach. Does your new pediatrician advocate against devoting too much time to sports? That can make for a contentious doctor-parent relationship.
What do you want in a pediatric office? Do you prefer a practice with just one or two pediatricians, or is a rotating team OK? Does the gender of your child’s primary physician matter to you? Will you feel better confiding in a pediatrician who’s also a parent? There are no right or wrong answers to those questions. Being honest about what’s important to you makes choosing a new pediatrician smoother.
Researching Your Child’s Pediatrician
Do some online sleuthing to make sure your child’s potential pediatrician meets basic qualifications. Of course, you can also examine the certifications on her wall. The requirements to become a pediatrician are fairly standard. Make sure she has completed medical school plus a three-year residency. You must also verify if she’s board-certified and is an AAP member. If she has cleared these minimum standards, she’ll have the letters “FAAP” after her name on any listings.
Trust Your Instincts
Above all, allow yourself to feel confident about the choices you make for your family. Once you’ve selected a pediatrician you can trust, you’ll feel more confident having him/her on your side, too! Even after your child or children are established patients with the practice, ask follow-up questions. In addition, don’t be afraid to double check your doctor’s current qualifications. After all, no one is a better advocate for your child than you are!
You may still have doubts about the list of doctors that you have now. Watch this video to help you choose the right pediatrician for your children:
Picking the right pediatrician for your children is important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do your own research. After all, you will be entrusting your kids’ life in their hands.
What factors do you consider when looking for a pediatrician? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.