Tips for choosing a Pediatrician
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What to look for in a Pediatrician
The checklist below is a simple guide that covers all the major criteria most would consider important in choosing a pediatrician. The first 2 criteria on the checklist are the most important; look for a Pediatrician:
- #1 possesses a medical license,
- #2 has a solid reputation. It's also good to know if the Pediatrician is board certified in the area of Pediatrics. Board certification isn't necessary and there are fine Pediatricians that aren't board certified. However, it is the gold standard in any medical specialty field.
Your insurance will also play a significant role in who you choose, and early on you should determine whether or not a potential doctor will accept your insurance. Insurance doesn't have to be a choice breaker if you feel that the Pediatrician is worth paying cash for and they are affordable.
Ask your parent friends who they've heard good things about or experienced good care with. And after you've created a short list of potential doctors- call for an interview. Interviews are a good idea because most Pediatricians don't charge for them and they'll give you more information than you could possibly want. Two important questions to ask is "Will the Pediatrician be on vacation when your child is born? Who covers them when they're unavailable?"
In addition to meeting with the doctor, you might get a chance to meet some of the staff, and you'll probably have a chance to take a look around and see the facilities as well. Look for a waiting room that is clean, comfortable and welcoming- but remember the idea is to spend as little time possible in that welcoming room.
Finally, look for a doctor that you feel comfortable with. Some patients prefer a take-charge kind of doctor, while others want a doctor who will listen and even adapt. Alternative or complementary medicines, amended vaccination schedules, feeding routines for newborns and other issues should be all be discussed if they are important to you.
- Determine if the doctor is in good medical standing/Has a medical license.
- Determine if the doctor has a good reputation.
- Determine if the doctor is Board certified.
- Determine if the doctor will accept my insurance.
- Ask friends for names and experiences.
- Get those interviews
Questions for interview: And in some cases, why you should ask them
- Availability- what are their hours?
- What are the after hours care/emergencies protocols?
- What insurance do they take?
- How do they schedule checkups- how much time is given for checkups?
- What is their policy for sick visits? How are they scheduled?
- Continuity of care- will we be seeing different doctors regularly / occasionally? This scenario is unique to bigger practices and clinics.
- Who covers call?
You'll want to have at least a brief introduction to the doctor/s that may see your child in case of emergencies.
- Is the doctor accessible from the phone?
In many practices, it is standard protocol to have the staff, and not the doctor, address medical questions.
- How does your practice deal with contagious disease?
Don't worry- every practice has a protocol- but this question comes up. It would be an easy disqualifier (and negligence on the practice's part) if there was no protocol.
- What is your policy for being late? Missed appointments? Some practices/ clinics will charge you, some won't.
- How long is the average wait? Can we be seen the same day?
Some Helpful Terms
- M.D.... Medical Doctor- someone who graduates from Medical School.
- Pediatrician...an M.D. who studied and completed a Residency Program in Pediatrics. The Pediatric specialty includes newborns up to young adults.
- Diplomat of the American Board of Pediatrics... Official title of someone Board Certified in Pediatrics
- FAAP... Fellow of the American Association of Pediatrics is the title of a Diplomat who also pays an annual fee for the title "Fellow"
Most M.D.s who are Board Certified pay for the "Fellow" title because "FAAP" fits better on signage, business cards etc, and is a more familiar (and prestigious) title than "Diplomat of the American Board of Pediatrics"