By: Cheryl Maguire
Being pregnant with a new baby is exciting and a little scary. Before your baby is born you may feel overwhelmed with information and decisions that you need to make regarding their care. Figuring out who will be your child’s doctor is one of the most important decisions you need to make as a parent.
As the mom of three kids, I remember this process well. Before my twins were born, I met with a pediatrician and had a list of questions. After a few disappointments, I switched doctors. Fortunately, my kids are all fine and thriving, but hopefully, you won’t have to switch doctors like me. Here are some tips to help you find a doctor that is a good fit for you and your family.
Ask for Recommendations
If you are a new mom in a new community like I was, it may be difficult to find recommendations. Even though your baby isn’t born yet, you can join local mom groups either online or in person. Asking these moms who they use as a doctor would be a great place to start your search. I asked people at the gym I went to or friends that I worked with at the time. You can ask your own primary care and OB-GYN for their suggestions. Make sure to interview at least three different doctors to get a broad range of options.
Hopefully your child will not need to visit the doctor often but when your child is sick or hurt you don’t want to travel a long distance. One time my son was having trouble breathing due to pneumonia. My doctor’s office was only five minutes away and they told me to bring him in immediately and they gave him a cortisone shot. He was breathing better within minutes and I was grateful the practice was close to our house.
This is a tough one, because I’ve dealt with experienced doctors that were so rigid that they misdiagnosed and new doctors can also make mistakes due to their inexperience. So the length of time they have been working may not be relevant. But you can make sure they are board certified as a pediatrician by The American Board of Pediatrics.
I think a doctor’s personality matters the most when selecting a pediatrician. As a new parent, you will have lots of questions and concerns. You want to feel as if you can trust your doctor to communicate with you effectively and to listen to your concerns. If you get a sense that your personality doesn’t mesh with your doctor’s, then pay attention to that red flag and find a doctor that is a good fit. My kid’s current pediatrician is one of the best doctors I’ve ever encountered. She is patient, understanding, and always listens to my concerns.
Before you select a doctor you should set up an interview to ask them questions so that you can get a sense of their personality and values. While you are there pay attention to the waiting room, office, and patients. Is it clean? Are there a lot of people waiting? Here are some questions you could ask:
- Why did you decide to be a pediatrician?
- What hours do you work?
- Am I able to see you the same day for a sick visit?
- What if I need to see a specialist how is that handled?
- What hospitals are you affiliated with?
- What if I disagree with your diagnosis how would you respond?
- What is your philosophy about vaccines, breastfeeding, antibiotics, counseling, discipline, and medications?
Making the Decision
Now that you gathered the information you need to make a decision about which doctor is the best to treat your child. Hopefully, you were able to interview at least three different doctors. If you felt like all of the doctors answered your questions appropriately then it comes down to the doctor that you feel would communicate well with you and listen to your concerns.