Expecting parents must make a host of important decisions before their children enter the world. Finding the right pediatrician is one of the decisions that expecting parents, especially those who are expecting their first child, may find challenging.
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that pediatricians have special training in the health and illnesses of children from birth through adolescence and into the young adult years. In many instances, parents trust the same pediatricians to look after their children’s health for years on end, making the choice of pediatrician a highly important one. In recognition of that importance, the AAP facilitates the process of finding board-certified pediatricians via the “Find a Pediatrician” tool on the HealthyChildren.org website. Similary, the Canadian Paediatric Society, via the website CaringForKids.cps.ca, provides links to various organizations that can help parents find pediatricians for their children.
The AAP recommends that expecting parents interview pediatricians to learn more about them. Pediatricians are accustomed to such interviews and will likely be happy to schedule visits with expecting parents (or parents who are looking for new pediatricians to care for their children). During such meetings, the AAP advises parents to ask the following questions.
• Which medical school did the pediatrician attend and where did he or she undergo postgraduate or residency training?
• What are the pediatrician’s current hospital appointments? This is an important question as it can indicate which hospital a child would be admitted to in the event that the youngster had to be hospitalized. Parents may prefer certain hospitals and may want to find a pediatrician who is affiliated with those preferences.
• Where is the pediatrician’s office located? Parents who rely on public transportation should determine if a pediatrician’s office is accessible by bus or train. Many parents also prefer pediatricians who are local, as that can make doctor’s visits more convenient, especially in the case of sick visits.
• Who returns phone calls? Parents of newborns often have many questions in the first few months of their child’s life, and some may feel more secure knowing the child’s pediatrician will be the one returning their calls.
• Is this a group practice? If so, how often will my child see our preferred pediatrician? And who covers for the doctors during vacations or times when the preferred pediatrician is out of the office?
• What are the short notice visitation policies? These policies will indicate how accessible a pediatrician is when children develop spur-of-the-moment issues like colds, sore throats, etc. Many parents prefer practices that have daily walk-in hours.
• Which insurance does the practice accept?
When interviewing pediatricians, parents should not hesitate to ask any questions they have. A good pediatrician will welcome all questions and patiently answer each one.