How to Choose the Right Pediatrician

How to Choose the Right Pediatrician

A pediatrician plays a crucial role in providing medical care, guidance, and support for your child from birth through adolescence. Choosing a pediatrician for your child is a big decision. Who you choose to be your child’s doctor can have a significant impact on your little one’s wellbeing. But your relationship with your child’s doctor also has to potential to affect your parenting experience, positively or negatively. It’s important that you can trust your child’s pediatrician, and it’s also essential that you feel they trust you as a parent, too. Let’s discuss how to choose the right pediatrician.

Start Early and Gather Recommendations

The first step to know about how to find the right pediatrician is to start early. You won’t want to feel rushed with this decision, and many pediatric practices have waitlists to accept new patients.

  • Begin Early: It’s advisable to start looking for a pediatrician during your second trimester of pregnancy. This allows ample time to research, interview pediatricians, and make an informed decision without feeling rushed.
  • Seek Recommendations: Ask for recommendations from relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and other healthcare providers. Personal referrals can provide valuable insights into the quality of care provided by a pediatrician and their practice.

Research and Evaluate

Now that you’ve started to consider how to find the right pediatrician, it’s time to dive deep into the research phase.

  • Check Credentials: Ensure that the pediatrician is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, indicating that they have passed a comprehensive exam related to the health and development of infants, children, and young adults.
  • Consider Philosophy: What are your own personal beliefs and preferences related to children’s healthcare? Consider topics such as circumcision, breastfeeding, vaccination, alternative and complementary medicine, and antibiotic use. Choose a pediatrician whose approach aligns with your own priorities and values.
  • Assess Communication and Accessibility: It happens to every parent: at some point, you’ll need to seek medical advice and/or care for your child after business hours. Look for a pediatrician who offers accessible and convenient communication, such as an online patient portal or an after-hours on-call doctor. How responsive and accessible is the practice overall? These details will make or break your experience with your child’s doctor.

Meet and Interview Potential Pediatricians

Now that you’ve researched and reflected, it’s time to meet and interview potential pediatricians. During these interviews, consider not only their answers but the way they answer your questions – do you feel heard, and that they respect you?

  • Schedule Visits: Many pediatricians offer free visits to allow parents to meet the doctor, ask questions, and assess their style and philosophy of care. Take advantage of these visits to ensure that you feel comfortable and confident in your choice.
  • Ask Questions: Ask about the pediatrician’s background, training, hospital affiliations, and the services offered through their practice. Discuss your expectations and concerns to gauge if the pediatrician is the right fit for your family.

Consider Practice Environment and Services

Now that you’ve met with potential pediatricians, the next step is to consider the practice as a whole. While you’ll schedule well check ups with your child’s main pediatrician, it’s likely that you’ll work with other caregivers in the practice in other circumstances such as last minute sick visits.

  • Assess Practice Atmosphere: Consider the atmosphere of the practice as a whole, including the front desk staff, wait times, and the overall environment. It doesn’t matter how amazing your pediatrician is, if you have to wait on hold forever to schedule an appointment! A welcoming and supportive practice will contribute to a positive experience for both you and your child.
  • Evaluate Services Offered: Inquire about the services offered through the practice, such as onsite lactation support or lab facilities and the option for telehealth visits. Do these services align with your family’s needs and priorities? Are any services lacking that are really important to you, such as home well visits in the early weeks after birth?

Trust Your Gut

Ultimately, when you’re exploring how to choose the right pediatrician, trust your instincts. It’s so important that you work with a pediatrician with whom you feel comfortable, confident, and at ease. This person will be by your side as your child grows, and as you grow and mature as a parent, too. The right pediatrician will be your partner and advisor in caring for your child, providing essential support and guidance during the formative years of your child’s life.

However it’s also important to note: don’t overthink it! You might not choose the right pediatrician on the first try. It’s perfectly okay to switch caregivers at any point. While it’s wonderful to be able to have continuity of care from one wonderful pediatrician throughout your little one’s childhood, it’s normal and common to need to choose a new pediatrician at some point. Take the time to thoughtfully research and choose a pediatrician, but don’t worry if you change your mind down the road. You are your child’s best advocate!