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Finding the Right Pediatrician for You and Your Baby

by J.J. Courtiol, M.A. Ed.

Congratulations, you’re pregnant. As the count-down to the birth of your new child approaches, you should consider finding a pediatrician who will work the best with your soon to be expanding family. Having a pediatrician on-hand though the formative weeks and years of your child’s life is in the best interests of both you and your child. Waiting until your child gets sick or needs a check-up is absolutely not the time to be going through the selection process, which can be stressful even when everything is going according to plan.

Beginning Your Search

There are several sources you can tap into to locate qualified pediatricians in your community.

  • A good place to start is the “American Board of Pediatrics (ABP)”. A pediatrician who is certified by them will have will have graduated from four years of medical school, received three years of resident training, and passed their written examination. They provide pediatrician search service on-line.
  • Another source is the “American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)”. They also provide a referral database of participating members.
  • Certain health plans require you to choose a pediatrician from their approved network.
  • You can also ask is your obstetrician. Obstetricians and pediatricians often interact to oversee the care of both mother and baby.
  • Ask other moms in your neighborhood including friends, family or co-workers. They may be able to relate their personal experiences about specific individuals.

Vetting the Field

You’ll want to find a doctor who fits with your goals and expectations. It’s usually best to first meet the candidates to assess their qualifications, personality, approach and experience before arriving at a decision. The kinds of questions you might consider asking your prospective pediatrician and other considerations include:

  • What type of pediatric qualifications do they have? Are they certified by the ABP and/or a member of the AAP?
  • If you are aware of certain health concerns in your family or with your pregnancy, you may want to ask about qualifications in pediatric subspecialty areas?
  • How can they be contacted after hours or during an emergency? Are they available by phone? Who covers for them when they are not available?
  • If you have minor questions what is the best time and method to reach them?
  • Does the pediatrician talk with and care about the children, and not just the parents?
  • Does the pediatrician seem to know about current issues and advances in pediatric medicine?
  • Does the pediatrician have “chemistry” with the children as well as the parents?
  • Does the pediatrician appear knowledgeable about current issues and advances in pediatric medicine?

In addition, you’ll probably want to know about availability and cost of services. Areas of investigation include:

  • Office and Location – What are the office hours? What hospital is he/she affiliated with? Is the location conveniently close to your residence or work place?
  • Costs and insurance coverage – What are the costs of services? Do they work with your insurance plan? What services are covered and which ones are not? What are the co-pays and other billing practices?
  • What are the routine child-care check-ups? The AAP recommends checkups at one, two, four, six, nine, twelve, fifteen, and twenty-four months.

Conclusion

Finding the right pediatrician for your family can be a daunting challenge. However, there are several good sources that can help you in your quest. In most cases you’ll have a choice about your child’s doctor so try to find a doctor who is just right for you. Evaluate you’ll health care provider based on the criteria that are most important to you and your family.

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