So last week, A had her 18 month appointment. It went very well- everything is right on target and our big girl is running right on her growth curves where she’s supposed to be and screamed bloody murder when she got her shots, just as I had expected. While we were there, I began thinking about how I’ve been meaning to share my thoughts and tips for choosing a pediatrician for your baby on here.
We started looking into various practices near our home at the very end of my pregnancy with A. I think we actually waited a little longer than we should have and as such I was a tad stressed out. Still after taking a closer look into a few places, we ultimately settled on our current practice and from that moment, there hasn’t been a question in my mind that we made the best possible decision for our family. So here are some tips to consider when choosing a pediatrician:
- Insurance- Does the practice accept your insurance? If not, you may want to look elsewhere. As we all know, medical care can be quite expensive.
- Location- Initially, I didn’t think this really mattered (I totally grew up going to the most awesome pediatrician that was a good 20 minute drive without traffic). But now that I’m a mom, I am so glad that our pediatrician is less than 10 minutes from our home. This is not only for logistical reasons like weather conditions (hello, Western New York winters!) but also because when your sweet baby is sick, the last thing you want to be doing is running all over the world with them.
- Credentials- This may go without saying, but just in case, is the doctor board certified? Do they belong the American Academy of Pediatrics? Are there any areas that they specialize in (while this may not be top priority it never hurts. Think about it. If you have a family history of Asthma, it’s definitely a sweet perk if the doctor you choose has a good amount of experience with asthmatic patients)? One thing I loved about the practice that we chose is that each doctor indicated in their bio some areas of special interest that they had a special focus in. It was pretty great to hear about those types of things. Also, are they a parent? While this is obviously not a prerequisite, I love that our Doctor is also a mom and has been exactly where I am a few times.
- Bedside Manner- Do you click with the doctor? Does their communication style mesh well with yours? When your sweet baby is sick for the first time and you’re totally freaking out (do I sound like I speak from experience here?Um, yes, 100%!) you’ll want someone that communicates in a way that won’t make you want to bite their head off.
- Practice Policies- What are the hours of the practice? Do they have any extended hours on nights or weekends? What’s the on-call situation? Will you always have the same doctor each time or will you see a different partner on each visit? Do they have a separate entrance for really tiny babies? With which area hospitals is the practice affiliated? I’m sure there are a million more that I’m missing, but inquire about the practice’s basic policies so that you know what you’re signing up for.
- What are your priorities- It’s so important to sit down with your partner (if applicable) and assess what your biggest priorities are for a practice and Doctor before you begin looking around. For example, a really big thing for us was finding a practice that was as pro-vaccinations as we are (which is a major non-negotiable for me). So when one of the practices we were considering refused to give us a straight answer on their policy regarding vaccinations, a major red flag was raised for us and we walked out of that meeting knowing that this practice was not a good fit for our family. Bottom line, decide on the priorities for your family and don’t settle for less. From here, make a list of questions to get an idea about where the doctor and the practice stands on the matters that are close to your heart.
- What are the other employees like; the nurses, the administrative staff, etc.- In the area that I live it is apparently a common practice for a medical practice to charge for an initial meeting. I was unaware of this when I began my research and when I called certain practices to inquire, the administrative staff that I spoke with acted as though I was some sort of idiot for not being aware of this and had quite an attitude with me. I was immediately turned off from even being willing to consider these practices because if that’s the attitude that’s given to a person who is simply calling to (nicely) inquire, what’s going to happen when I’m a nervous wreck calling the first time my poor baby is sick? On the tour of our current practice (which was free of charge, by the way) all of the staff made a point to introduce themselves and make us feel very welcome, which has continued every single time we call or step foot into the building. I cannot even begin to tell you how nice it is to have a friendly reassuring voice on the other end of the call after a long night up with a sick baby!
- Referrals- Do any of your local friends or family recommend any doctors or practices? We found our doctor through a friend of mine from high school who had such wonderful things to say about her. It never hurts to ask around.
- Don’t freak out- It can be a daunting task trying to find the right Doctor for your baby. I get it. I totally freaked out. You are entrusting them with the most precious thing in your world. At the same time, have a little faith and remember, you can always change in the future, if you had to.
- Trust your gut- Like many others, I know this to be true: if your gut tells you something, it’s often right. Follow those signals. When it’s right (or wrong) you will know. Follow that intuition.
What helped you decide on the right pediatrician for your family?
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