When looking for a good pediatrician, it is highly recommended that you ask for referrals from the following people: nurse-midwife or obstetrician/gynecologist, other parents: friends or online parenting groups/forums, or a pediatric floor nurse at a medical center or at a local hospital.
The pediatrician referral database at the American Academy of Pediatrician can also help you find a good referral. After getting some good referrals, visit the American Board of Medical Specialties website to find out about a pediatrician’s credentials.
- If the pediatrician is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics or AAP in short: A pediatrician can only be certified by this board when he or she passes a specialized pediatrics exam.
- If the pediatrician is a member of the AAP: A pediatrician who is a member of the AAP often has a “FAAP” after his or her name. Such a pediatrician has met specialized standards when it comes to child health care and is worth considering.
- In case you select a family physician, find out if he or she is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM): This is because of the fact that family physicians are trained in how to take care of patients of all ages and they do not have specialized pediatrics training.
- If the doctor has undergone specialized training: This is an important factor to consider especially if you believe that your child will require special medical care
Once you have narrowed down your list of potential pediatricians and it only has 2 or 3 pediatricians, you need to ask some specific questions so that you can find the right pediatrician for you. Face to face interview is usually the best when it comes to asking pediatricians important questions. This is due to the fact that it gives you an opportunity to know more about a pediatrician, his or her staff and policies.
Questions To Ask a Pediatrician
How long have you been in practice? This can be a good question to ask in a face to face interview if you do not have this information already.
What is your childcare philosophy? Find out about a pediatrician’s philosophy in regards to breastfeeding, alternative medicine, circumcision, sleep, vaccinations and discipline issues.
Do you have children? It might be comforting to know that your pediatrician has children of the same gender. Being a parent does give you a better ability to empathize with other parents. Also having some personal experience with sick children is a huge advantage.
Are you part of a group practice? If you find that a pediatrician you want to hire is in a solo practice, ask the pediatrician who usually covers when he or she is not around. If a pediatrician is part of a group practice, find out about the background of the rest of the doctors. There are practices with pediatric nurse practitioners who are fully trained with an MA and specialized training. Remember that physician assistants aren’t nurses. They have two years of physician assistant training and college degrees.
How long does a check-up last? A typical check-up should take at least 20 minutes.
What are the office hours? The wider these range into the evening and weekends the better. Children have a tendency to not get sick during regular office hours. It will often happen that you need a doctor late in the evening.
How do you deal with emergencies? There are offices that can comfortably handle same-day walk-in visits. Find out how after-hours emergencies and questions are handled.
Is there a call-in policy? There are pediatricians who have a specific call-in period every day. There are practices where a nurse gives answers to routine questions. You need to ask how these phone calls are usually taken and whether or not there is a charge.
Do you make house calls? Office and Staff
Evaluate the Office
When searching for a good pediatrician, it is good that you consider location. If your baby becomes sick, it may not be a good idea to have to travel far to get medical help. Therefore, look for a pediatrician near where you live.
- How clean is the waiting area? And does it have clean books and toys?
- Does the office have a separate waiting area for sick children?
- How is the staff? Are they helpful and friendly?
- How long do patients have to wait before being attended to?
- Does the pediatrician you are considering accept your insurance?
- Can the pediatrician accept a variety of plans if your coverage changes?
- Does the pediatrician accept a payment plan if you aren’t covered?
- Hospital Affiliation: Which hospital is the pediatrician affiliated with?
- Does the hospital affiliated with the pediatrician accept your insurance cover?
- What specialist works in that hospital?
- Are parents allowed to visit their children in the hospital 24/7?
- In case your child is admitted, will you be allowed to stay overnight with him or her in the hospital?