How to Choose a Pediatrician

Story by Jessica Tomes

Did you know that it’s perfectly acceptable to interview pediatricians long before a baby even arrives on the scene? That’s right! Rather than simply accepting a pediatrician the hospital assigns, you can preemptively schedule a brief prenatal visit with any physicians you are considering, so that you can make the most informed decision for your growing family. This also works for families making a move from one city to another. But how do you choose?

First things first — you’ll want to get a list of pre-approved physicians from your insurance company (Give them a quick phone call for the most accurate info). Talk to family and friends in the area. Get their recommendations and opinions for sure, but always take these recommendations with a grain of salt. Everyone’s preferences are going to be a little bit different. You’ll want to do your own independent research. Look at the pediatricians’ websites. Read reviews. Be prepared for your initial meeting — put together a list of questions and bring it with you.

With small children, the location of the pediatrician’s office is always an important consideration. Ideally, you don’t want to be driving an hour or more across town for appointments. Make sure to ask about triage care (a nurse’s hotline) when interviewing offices. Find out if the practice has pediatricians and/or physician’s assistants on call who see same day patients as necessary — this is important with small children.

You’ll also want to ask about things like education and qualifications. You should always choose a board-certified physician. Don’t be afraid to ask about any malpractice suits, past or present. Ask about treatment philosophies and immunization practices. Find out why they chose to pursue a career in pediatric medicine in the first place. Open-ended questions like these should reveal attitudes and personalities, which will help you make the best decision for your family. As a parent, you want to feel comfortable discussing all issues (big and small) with your caregiver. You want to feel heard. Parenting can be scary. You want to have the best team in place.

Find out all financial policies upfront. Ask about any additional parenting issues that are important to you. Take note of the office and staff. Are things clean? Are there toys and books available to entertain your little ones in the waiting area? Is there a designated sick waiting area? What about a designated infant waiting area? Do things seem to run on schedule, or does it look like you will be waiting past appointment times?

Narrow down the list of contenders, and then go with your gut. Choose someone you respect, who you feel that your family will be able to see for many years to come. And finally, don’t be afraid to make a move if it isn’t a perfect fit. You have to do what’s right for your family and your child. Anyone who can’t understand that probably isn’t the right fit anyway.