Choosing a Pediatrician

Choosing a Pediatrician

Selecting the person who will be seeing your child for medical concerns is a huge issue for most parents, and that’s why choosing a pediatrician can be such a frustrating process. You don’t want to make the wrong decision, and it’s easy to drive yourself crazy by thinking too much.

Here, we’ll give you some steps to follow when making this important decision. Every parent values different things, so of course your final list of criteria will vary.

The Basics

Choosing a Pediatrician

When choosing a pediatrician, you have to start somewhere. For new parents, or parents who have recently moved, this can be a tough obstacle to overcome. Where do you begin? Asking trusted family members, neighbors or friends can be a great way to get good recommendations. If you’re truly alone in your area, try joining some parenting groups.

Once you have a list of potential pediatricians, make up a list of important questions to ask. This interview process is quite common these days, and most doctors are used to being interviewed by parents before seeing a child. If a doctor resists an interview, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.

Get the basic questions out of the way first. Does the doctor accept your insurance coverage? What are their office hours? Do they practice alternative medicine, approve of it or discourage it altogether? How busy is their office, and how long will you typically have to wait for an appointment? Which hospitals and specialty clinics is the doctor affiliated with, and where will your child go for emergency or after-hours care?

Once you’ve gotten these questions answered to your satisfaction, your list will probably have been shortened a bit. Now you can move on to more personal matters.

Take a Good Look at the Office

When you arrive at each interview, remember that first impressions can tell you quite a lot. Choosing a pediatrician shouldn’t be based solely on how their office looks, but it can give you plenty of clues.

Look for telltale signs of being understaffed such as accidents and spills which are not cleaned up immediately, toys left strewn about the waiting room, and general poor housekeeping. While these are not direct indicators of a bad pediatrician, they will let you know if the office itself is run well.

Signs of a well-run and efficient office include cleanliness, neatness of toys and magazines and, surprisingly, a bright and clean fish tank (this common distraction is a great indicator, since fish tanks can get truly disgusting if not tended to properly). Also look for things which will make waiting more pleasant and less stressful for you and your child, such as a wide range of age-appropriate toys and reading material.

Bring Your Child to the Interview

Seeing the doctor is rarely a pleasant experience for any child. However, if your child likes the pediatrician, the stress is greatly reduced. Bringing your child along when choosing a pediatrician can help you make your decision.

While it’s not necessary for a child to fall in love with their doctor during their first meeting, pay close attention to how they act. If your child seems extremely wary or nervous around the doctor, future visits are likely to be very stressful on both of you. Does the pediatrician interact with your child, or is he aloof and uninterested? If the doctor focuses all her attention on you and ignores their potential patient, look elsewhere. A good pediatrician will make a good attempt to introduce themselves to and engage your child.

Pay Attention to Attitude

If you find yourself put off by a particular doctor’s attitude, or if he seems bothered by your questions, you’re probably best off looking elsewhere. While it’s true that you don’t have to be best friends, this is potentially a very influential person in your child’s life. Do you really want such an important figure to be somebody you don’t get along with? In addition to personal feelings, the doctor’s attitude is a great indicator of how much she values parental input. You don’t want a doctor who doesn’t listen to a thing you say; this will only lead to disagreements, frustration, and a brand-new pediatrician search.

Your Final Decision – Choosing a Pediatrician

As you can see, once the basics are established, choosing a pediatrician is a very personal choice. Trust your instincts, and pay attention to how the doctor and your child relate.

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