How to Choose a Pediatrician For Your New Baby

Be prepared to make this important decision.

The final weeks for today’s expecting parents are filled making all types of decisions. along with finishing the nursery, arranging maternity leave, and reviewing hospital insurance policies, one very important area remains: to select a pediatrician. Choosing a pediatrician is one of the most important decisions you will make for your baby’s health and future.

Begin your search for a pediatrician early in your pregnancy. Start by asking your friends and relatives who their pediatricians are and if they recommend them. Your obstetrician is also a good referral source.

After you’ve compiled a list of names, arrange for a predelivery interview in the pediatrician’s office. A predelivery interview is a customary practice for most pediatricians who see newborns. Most interviews do not exceed 20 minutes, but they do afford you an opportunity to share your concerns and views, so use your time wisely. Be prepared with a list of questions and look for specific qualifications. In doing this, you will be able to get some indication as to how the pediatrician interacts with you and how your personalities and philosophies interrelate. Just as important, you might get a feel for the atmosphere of the physician’s office and how it operates. Here are some specific questions that you might ask during the interview. These questions were ones that patients have asked me during interviews through the years. Some of these questions may well be found elsewhere in other printed sources.

1 //  Are you on my health plan and do you intend to stay on it?

2 //  How long have you been practicing pediatrics?

3 //  Are you board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics?

4 //  Where did you receive your residency training and have you had any postgraduate training in any subspecialty?

5 //  Do you have an on-going relationship with a medical school and, if so, in what capacity?

6 //  Will you visit my baby in the hospital following delivery and will the baby be examined every day during its hospital stay?

7 //  What are your office hours? Are after hours and weekend visits available?

8 //  What is the normal wait time in your waiting room?

9 //  Do you schedule well checks and sick visits at separate times during the day, or do you have any other provisions for separating the sick children from the well ones?

10 //  Under ordinary circumstances, willI see you each visit or will I be rotated to other doctors in the practice or a nurse practitioner?

11 //  What is your philosophy toward the use of antibiotics in your practice, and do you try to avoid them as much as possible during most minor illnesses?

12 //  What is the procedure for answering phone calls both during and after office hours? How long will I usually have to wait for a phone call to be returned? How accessible are you if I would like to speak to you?

13 //  If my child has an emergency after hours or needs to be hospitalized,what hospital(s) do you use?

14 //  What doctors cover for you when you are not available?  Will they have access to my child’s records, and are they all on my insurance plan?

15 //  (In choosing a primary care physician who is not a pediatrician.)  How much training have you had in pediatrics, and what pediatricians do you use for consultation in case of a serious illness?


Abstracted from the book
A Thousand and One Healthy Baby Answers (Sourcebooks 2008) written by local pediatrician Dr. Gary C. Morchower.

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