How to Choose a Pediatrician: Tips + Questions to Ask
How to Choose a Great Pediatrician for Your Child
While pregnant, there seems to be a never-ending list of things to do before you give birth. Choosing a pediatrician is one you just can’t skip!
Did you know you can set up consultations with pediatricians in your area to help you make your decision? They’re often called consultations, but may also be called interviews or meet and greets. Whatever you call it, they’re key to cover all of your bases when deciding on a healthcare provider for your children.
Here you’ll find the best tips to choose a pediatrician for your child, whether you’re pregnant or moving to a new city.
Start your search early
If you’re currently pregnant, now is the time to start your search for a pediatrician! Around 6-7 months pregnant, start researching reviews and ask friends and family who they would recommend as your child’s doctor.
On that same note, if you’re moving to a new city or state, start your search a month or two before your move.
Independent pediatrician or group practice
There are pros and cons to going with a solo practice or a pediatrician within a group practice or hospital network.
I recommend talking with both types to get a feel for which works best for your family.
For example, when your child is born, which doctor will visit your child in the hospital? For larger clinics, their pediatricians are on a rotating schedule and your child may not be seen by their actual doctor. They may be seen by whoever in the group practice is on call. For smaller clinics, your actual pediatrician will visit you and your newborn while in the hospital.
Personally, we thought we would go with the convenience of a larger clinic, but ended up with a small, independent practice! In fact, I walked into the larger clinic certain we had our pediatrician, but it ended up not being a good fit.
Three years later, I still remember the care and comfort our chosen pediatrician showed after our son was born. While we were still in the hospital, my son’s doctor would call me personally to check in not just on our son, but me as well. They even sent us home with a personalized burp cloth embroidered with his name at his one week appointment!
Set up consultations
Next, you’ll want to contact the office to set up interviews with your short list of pediatricians. Simply call their main number or if they have an appointment number. Let them know your due date and that you’d like to set up a pediatrician interview or consultation.
Being able to take a few minutes to sit down with prospective pediatricians is a great way to get to know them and ask all your questions at once.
By setting up interviews, you will get a better idea of how their office works. You’ll also see how open they are to new patients and how easy (or difficult!) it is to schedule an appointment in the future.
Keep in mind, with COVID-19, you may not be able to meet with a prospective pediatrician in person. A virtual meeting still gives you a chance to “meet” them, learn about their methods and personality.
Create a checklist of questions
First, create your top 3-5 priorities of your child’s future pediatrician. Is it a convenient location? Are same-day appointments available? Are natural treatments key? How long are appointments? How can you get in contact with the nurse or doctor?
One of our major priorities was the fact I have multiple autoimmune diseases. It was important to us to find a pediatrician well-versed in my chronic illnesses. She was willing and able to keep one eye open for our son for the same.
You can download a free checklist of questions to interview prospective pediatricians by clicking here!
What to expect during your pediatrician interview
When you arrive at the office, if meeting in person, take note of how busy the office is. Are there toys? What is the sanitation protocol? Check-in procedure? Are there sick and well children in the waiting room?
See how the staff interacts with you, the patients and each other. Don’t be afraid to ask a parent in the waiting room their thoughts on the office.
You should count on your consultation to take anywhere from ten to thirty minutes, depending on your questions and conversation and the pediatrician’s schedule.
Finally, choose your pediatrician
Try to choose your pediatrician several weeks before your due date. Be sure to call the office and let them know you’ve chosen them as your pediatrician. You’ll also let them know your due date and your planned location of birth.
If having your baby at a hospital or birthing center, you’ll likely put the doctor’s name and contact information on your intake paperwork in advance or when you arrive to give birth. That way, they’ll know you have given birth to their newest patient and they can set up an in-hospital visit and/or your newborn’s checkups.
Consider what works best with your family
When choosing a pediatrician, you’re not just choosing a doctor for your child when they have an ear infection. You’re choosing a partner in helping to raise your child, in good mental and physical health and even the not-so-great.
As a mom, I’m grateful I went beyond reading reviews online for pediatricians and found the best pediatrician for our family. Meeting in person was absolutely key.
A few things we love about our pediatrician are longer appointment times and they’re open to feedback and collaboration. And it’s easy to ask questions or advice – on the phone, email, text, and portal – and a friendly staff and environment.
We also love how they space appointments out so sick appointments are on different days and times from well visits. That means no sitting in the waiting room with a contagious child when you’re there for your two year old checkup!
All in all, know that you may not find a perfect fit for your family right now. Give it a little time – everyone has bad days or running late – but above all, trust your gut!