Whether you are a new parent or a seasoned parenting pro, expecting a new baby is an exciting – and chaotic – time. There’s a lot on your to-do list, and finding the right pediatrician is one of many important decisions you have to make before giving birth.
Choosing the right pediatrician to care for your children is no easy task. When you select a pediatrician, you are establishing a relationship with a medical expert who will become close to your family and provide you with guidance through all stages of your child’s development.
This trusted expert will be there to support you through all sorts of bumps, bruises and sniffles.
When should you choose a pediatrician?
Who you’re entrusting with your child’s healthcare is an important decision. If you’re expecting, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to find the right doctor.
Start looking for a pediatrician 2-3 months before your baby is due. Schedule a face-to-face visit at their offices or a virtual call to give yourself the opportunity to ask questions and see if they fit your needs.
After all, you’re going to see them quite a bit. Especially in your baby’s first year. A newborn will see a doctor between five and eight times for well-baby checkups and visits. And those visits don’t account for the unexpected visits for colds, fevers, rashes, and more.
Your pediatrician will be your partner in your child’s health. You are making a commitment to your child’s health and development with the oversight of a board-certified medical professional.
5 things to consider when selecting your child’s doctor
First and foremost, choosing the right pediatrician starts with trust. Trust is the key ingredient for any working relationship. You have to trust both the provider, their expertise and their ability to listen and respect your wishes as a parent.
With trust in mind, here are five steps to choosing the right pediatrician.
1. Do Your Homework
Your Pediatrician should do more than accept your insurance policy. They should be trusted as an expert amongst the community. So, ask around.
Reach out to your personal network of family and friends for recommendations. You will most likely receive multiple recommendations and guidance on what practices to steer clear of. Then, check out social media and online reviews to learn more about other parent’s experiences.
With some trusted and referred providers in mind, narrow it down by those who accept your insurance policy. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that first-time parents actually meet with their pediatrician before their child is born.
2. Check Reviews
Finding the right pediatrician is not the same as shopping for a new pair of shoes online, but there is a lot you can learn from others’ insights. Read reviews carefully. You will want to pay attention to both positive and negative patient feedback.
How many reviews are available for the doctor or practice? What is the average rating? Have patients provided written reviews or basic star ratings?
Then, dig into the comments that have been left. Identify trends and feedback patterns. When reading through any negative reviews, take into consideration that one bad experience may not be an accurate reflection of the practice or provider. But, if there are 40 reviews in a row complaining about the provider’s inability to listen to a parent’s concerns about their child’s health, you may want to stay away from that provider. Use your best judgment.
Trusted review sites such as HealthGrades can be a great resource for your due diligence.
3. Check for Convenience and Accessibility
As a parent, you are busy. You need a doctor who is available, accessible and has a supporting team of experts around them. You cannot afford hours of waiting on hold or dropped phone calls with the supporting call line.
A great place to start is the practice website. Ask yourself:
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Where is the practice located?
- What are the office hours?
- How can the doctor be reached?
- Is there an easy-to-use patient portal for you to login and keep track of your childs’ health?
- Are there clear profiles available for providers and their supporting medical staff?
If you cannot locate their office online, chances are they are not the accessible solution you are looking for.
4. Take Your Pediatrician for a Test Drive
If possible, take the time to meet with them face-to-face. You heard us. An initial appointment can allow you to see how they interact with new patients and families, engage with the office staff and experience first-hand what you can expect during the course of your child’s care.
An office visit provides you with an opportunity to speak directly to the doctor. Ask them questions like:
- How long have you been practicing?
- Why did you choose to become a pediatrician?
- Any questions you have about upcoming healthcare needs for your child.
Pay attention to their responses as you will be developing a close relationship with this doctor. A great pediatrician treats the parents emotions just as well as they consider the treatment of your child. They will understand the anxiety of choosing the right solution for you and your family. In fact, some practices may even go as far as providing new-born resources such as online links, lactation consultants, and more.
Do not hesitate, get on the phone and give them a call.
5. Pay Attention to How The Doctor Interacts with Your Child
Trusting your network of friends and family, reading online reviews, and “test driving” the office with a consultation or phone call is only 10% of the journey to finding the perfect pediatrician.
The final deciding factor can come down to that first appointment when you are holding your child and sitting in their office. Trust your instincts and pay attention to the way the pediatrician interacts with you, your family and the patient.
Parents and pediatricians become partners in raising healthy children through all stages of development. Find a pediatrician that meets your needs and respects your family’s unique style, approach and philosophy when it comes to raising children.
A great pediatrician will take the time to listen, learn and educate you each step of the way.