How to Choose a Pediatrician

Three Parts:Gathering a List of PediatriciansInterviewing PediatriciansMaking a Final Decision

Your baby's doctor will make sure your child is developing normally and give you advice on his or her care. It is important that you select a doctor you communicate well with and trust. If you or your spouse is pregnant, you can find a pediatrician before your baby is born so you have someone in place immediately after the birth. When you choose a pediatrician you are setting up a long-term professional relationship, and you should make sure the doctor's office, staff, personality, and care philosophy fit well with your preferences.

Part 1
Gathering a List of Pediatricians

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    Check with your insurance. You can call your insurance company to find out what doctors are in your network.[1] You can also usually find this information by logging on to your insurance company's website. You can then print off a list of pediatricians in your area that accept your insurance.
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    Fish for references. People in your social circle will already know good pediatricians. Ask around to see if anyone has a recommendation. You can ask in person or use social media to reach a wider audience.[2]
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    Ask your friends and family questions. It's helpful to get an idea of what the doctor is like before doing more research. Therefore, when you get a recommendation, try to ask a few follow-up questions.[3]
    • For instance, you could ask how that person's child responds to the doctor. You could also check how available the doctor is for questions. Another question you can ask is whether the doctor provides a satisfactory amount of information about growth and development.[4]
    • Ask the person to approximate how much time the doctor spends with your child, as well. The actual number doesn't matter. What's more important is if the parent feels like the time frame was enough for the problem at hand.[5]
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    Decide on what criteria matter to you. For instance, you may prefer a male doctor to a female doctor or vice versa. You may prefer an older, more experienced pediatrician, or you might rather have someone who's young with new ideas. Decide what's most important to you.[6]
    • Another important criterion is how fast you can get in to see the doctor, especially if your child has an immediate need. Weekend and nighttime hours might also be important to you, or they may not.[7]
    • You may also consider location important, as well as the size of the practice. A large practice may offer more opportunities to get your child in, for instance, even if it's not with your regular pediatrician.[8]
    • Another criteria to consider is the doctor's specialty. Some doctors specialize in newborns, while others specialize in older children, for instance, so consider the age of your child.[9]
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    Make a list of criteria. Once you've decided on what criteria matter to you, make a list of those criteria. Start with the most important at the top, then list them in descending importance. Write out a question you can ask the doctor's office or the doctor for each criteria.[10]
    • For instance, if you want to know about office hours, you could write "What are your office hours?"
    • It can be helpful to type up this list, then you can print it out for each doctor and take notes as you gather information.

Part 2
Interviewing Pediatricians

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    Do your research first. Many offices have much of their information listed on their websites. For instance, office hours should be listed on the website. You should also be able to find information about the doctor's educational background. Take notes on what you find, and note what information you can't find.
    • If you have special needs related to communication, check to see if the office has ways to help, such as interpreters or multilingual staff.
    • The websites of some practices will even offer photos and videos the pediatricians so that potential patients can get a feel for their personality and style.
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    Call the pediatricians. Contact the office of each doctor to ask a few initial questions about the doctor. What questions you ask exactly depends on what you expect from a pediatrician, but in general, you should ask about the doctor's educational background and experience, as well as what usually happens when you bring your child to that office.[11]
    • Also ask about any criteria that are especially important to you. For instance, don't forget to ask about office hours and the doctor's specialties. You should also ask what hospitals the doctor is able to admit patients to.[12]
    • Another important question to ask is how care is coordinated when your child needs to be referred to a specialist.[13]
    • Don't forget to take notes for each doctor's office you call.
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    Check which pediatricians are accepting new patients. It doesn't matter if you've found the perfect pediatrician if she's not accepting new patients. Make sure to ask each office whether they are taking on patients as you call around.[14]
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    Narrow your list some more. Once you've talked to each office, narrow down the list more to the doctors you'd like to interview in person. Narrow it down based on what criteria are most important to you.[15]
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    Schedule interviews. Once you've narrowed, it's time to schedule in-person interviews. Keep in mind that these interviews will generally be short, usually only 10 minutes or so, so don't expect to be there for an hour or more. The main purpose is to get a sense of whether you find the doctor trustworthy enough to handle your child's health.[16]
    • Sometimes, group practices have gatherings where you can meet more than one of the pediatricians at once.[17]
    • Most practices offer free interviews for prospective clients, but you should call and ask the office to be sure; some only offer these for parents who are expecting.
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    Show up for the interview. Ask any questions you still have unanswered. Pay attention to how the doctor communicates and whether or not you feel comfortable with him or her. If you're looking for a new pediatrician for an older child, take him or her with you to see how the doctor interacts with your kid. Also, ask your child afterwards how he or she felt about the doctor.[18]
    • See if the doctor's communication style matches with yours. That is, when you ask a question, do you feel like the doctor actually answers it or just flirts around the answer? Do you feel rushed in the interview?

Part 3
Making a Final Decision

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    Compare your notes. Once you've talked to your final choices, compare your notes on each one. How does each doctor line up with the criteria you set out? Which doctor matches the largest number of criteria you decided on? Those questions should help you narrow down your choice to one or two pediatricians.[19]
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    Check out your choices with the state medical board. Most states offer information on any doctor in the state to anyone who wants it. Therefore, you can use the information provided by the medical board to check for complaints against the doctor, as well as any disciplinary action against the doctor. You can also make sure the doctor is board certified.[20]
    • Find the website for your state's medical board to learn how to obtain the information you want. You'll probably need information such as the doctor's full name, as well as the address of the doctor's office.[21]
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    Make a decision. When it comes down to it, you may find several qualified doctors. In that case, it comes down to how you feel about the doctor. If you feel connected to a particular doctor and think that he or she is trustworthy, he or she is the pediatrician for your child. Also, don't stress too much. If you find you don't like the doctor you choose, you can always switch to another at a later time.[22]
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    Schedule an appointment. If your child is already born, go ahead and schedule an appointment with the pediatrician. Otherwise, let the office know your due date so they can be prepared when the baby is born.[23]

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Categories: Finding a Medical Specialist