Moving to a new place can be stressful — between packing and unpacking, and a to-do list that seems never-ending. This is especially true if you have children. There are new childcare providers to interview, and new schools, churches, libraries and activities to locate and learn about.
One of the big items on the list is nailing down a new pediatrician for your child. You want someone with the right credentials in a convenient location that also makes you and your little ones feel comfortable in their care.
This is a tall order, but these tips can offer some guidance in helping you select the right pediatrician for your family.
Do your research.
One of the best places to start when looking for a new pediatrician is with research. Begin with trusted sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the local community hospital or with your insurance company if you’re not sure who’s covered under your current plan.
Once you have a list of names, find out what their credentials are. These questions can help guide your research:
- Where did the pediatrician attend medical school? Where did he or she complete their residency or fellowship training?
- Is the pediatrician board-certified?
- How long has he or she been in practice?
- Do they have any current hospital appointments or affiliations, and if so, what are they?
- Is their office located somewhere convenient to your child’s school, your workplace or daycare?
- What are the office hours?
- Is this pediatrician part of a larger hospital group?
- How big is the practice?
Seek recommendations from friends and fellow parents in the area.
After doing some research on your own, it can be helpful to speak to friends or fellow parents in the area who may have had experience with specific pediatricians on your list, or others you aren’t familiar with. Find out what other moms and dads liked or disliked about a particular pediatrician and their practice, and let that guide further research.
Schedule a meet and greet.
Once you’ve selected a few pediatricians that seem like they could be a good fit, take some time and visit their offices — both with and without your child. Get a feel for the practice and the staff, and take note of how comfortable both you and your child are in the office.
Consider whether they have a waiting area specifically for sick children, if the office seems catered to children (toys, books available), if the nurses and staff are welcoming and friendly, and if it seems like other patients and families have had to wait for an extended amount of time.
You can also schedule some one-on-one time to meet and chat with the physician. Use this time to ask the new pediatrician questions and gauge your and your child’s comfort level.
During your preliminary visit with potential pediatricians, come prepared with a list of questions. These can help make it easier to decide if the physician is the right fit for your children:
- How many children does this physician generally see at this practice on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis?
- If your child has specific medical needs, ask the doctor if he or she has any specialized training in that area.
- What age ranges and conditions does the pediatrician primarily treat?
- Does the physician have children of their own? This may not be of equal importance to every parent, but it can be comforting to some.
- Does this practice have a call-in policy for routine or follow-up questions? Is he or she available via email?
- Does the practice have any weekend or evening appointments available? How are questions or concerns handled after hours?
- How are walk-in visits or visits for more acute illnesses handled at this practice?
- Who/where does he or she generally refer his or her patients to for more specialized or follow-up care?
- Does he or she have hospital admitting privileges?
- Is there a payment plan available if this physician isn’t covered by your insurance plan?
It can also to be helpful to learn more about the pediatrician’s general childcare philosophies – what his or her thoughts are on issues such as bottle feeding, nap times, diet and nutrition for children, alternative medicine, antibiotic use and immunization.
In the end, you know what’s best for your children. These simple tips are just guidelines to help make what can be an overwhelming search process a bit easier on your family.
For more parent resources, tips and pediatric health information, visit the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta parent resource center, Raising Healthy Kids.
This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated health care professionals on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.