I remember going to see my OB/GYN when I was pregnant with my first child, and being asked, “Who will the child’s pediatrician be?” Immediately I panicked. Pediatrician? I needed to know who our pediatrician was going to be NOW? Great, one more thing I had to figure out before this kid got here.
I am happy to say that we found a great pediatrician that we absolutely love. However, at the time, making the decision was incredibly overwhelming. If you’re in the same boat, or maybe if you’re not happy with your pediatrician and are looking to go elsewhere, here are some tips that might help you out:
Decide what is important to you. Make a list of the most important qualities that you want in a pediatrician. This could be anything from age to gender to hospital affiliation. Maybe you are delaying vaccinations or extending breast feeding, and you want a doctor who is supportive of those decisions. Whatever it may be, identify those traits before you start your search.
Ask other moms. Other moms are a great resource – take advantage! Take those qualities you identified above, and seek out moms with similar priorities to yours. Ask them who their kids see, and if they are happy there. You can also post to local mom message boards, or even ask on Twitter.
Schedule a meeting. When you’ve found a doctor you’re interested in, set up a meeting. Write down any and all questions you may have, and don’t be afraid to ask them. I grilled our poor pediatrician when I first met her. I explained to her that I was a nervous first-time mom, and I was going to have lots of questions. Would she be willing to answer them all? Thankfully she was (and still is!). If a pediatrician won’t take the time to do a meet-and-greet, I would give it some serious thought before making that person my doctor.
Consider the practical. Yes, you have to like and feel comfortable with your pediatrician. But you also have to consider the practical side of things. Is the office close to your home/job? Do they accept your insurance? Are they affiliated with your preferred hospital? If you are unsure of any of these things, don’t be afraid to ask.
Don’t forget the little things. Is the office staff pleasant? Is it easy to make an appointment? If the practice has multiple doctors, will you see the same pediatrician every time? What is the procedure for after hours concerns? These may not be deal-breakers, but they should factor in to your decision making process.
Don’t be afraid to change. If you end up unhappy with your pediatrician, it’s okay to change. Having a sick child is hard, especially when they are too small to communicate what is wrong. If you don’t have a pediatrician you feel comfortable with, it makes a difficult situation even worse. If you decide to change, go through these steps. Let potential pediatricians know your concerns, and see how they address them. You are your child’s advocate, and sometimes making a change is what is best for your family.
I remember the moment I knew for sure I had made the right choice. I told my doctor that my son probably just had a cold, but he didn’t seem like himself, so I wanted to bring him in. She fully supported my decision, and told me that another mom that day had felt the same way, and her son was on his way to get a chest x-ray because he might have pneumonia. Sure enough, my little guy had an ear infection. Having a doctor that understands and doesn’t ridicule my “mom instincts” is very important to me, and I feel lucky to have found her!
Hopefully these tips will help you find someone just as amazing!