Choosing a Pediatrician

After choosing a name, selecting a pediatrician is one of the most researched and discussed topics for expectant parents.  Many new parents choose a pediatrician based on recommendations from family or friends. Some pediatricians conduct “meet and greets” that allow expecting parents to visit an office and get a feel for a physician and the practice. The following are suggestions regarding things to consider when choosing a pediatrician: 

  • Size of a practice: Practice size varies from smaller practices with a single provider seeing patients at one location to large practices with multiple providers and several office locations. While some families may prefer large offices and like to see a variety of providers, others are more comfortable with the intimacy and continuity generated by seeing the same provider or provider team at each visit.
  • Hours of operation: Illnesses have a tendency to occur at rather inconvenient times for children and parents. Knowing whether your pediatrician has extended office hours such as early morning or evening appointments well as weekend hours is important to consider. That quick check for strep can save missed days of school and time away from work.
  • Ease of scheduling appointments: Are same day appointments available? How far in advance can appointments be scheduled?
  • Phone calls: Who answers calls during the day? How are calls after hours addressed? How long does it take for return phone calls? Are there other ways to communicate with our doctor?
  • Practice style: A pediatrician’s practice style and demeanor also is an important characteristic to consider. Some providers practice more traditional western medicine while others follow a more alternative approach to care. Other questions to consider include: How are questions received? Do parents feel as though they are partners with and on the same page as the provider?
  • Handling procedures: Injury and illness are commonplace, and it is rare for a child to escape childhood without a few bumps and scrapes. You may want to ask whether the office can suture lacerations, splint or cast fractures, and do any rapid labs (like checking for strep and urine infections) right there in the office.

Talking to friends and visiting pediatric practices prior to delivery can be invaluable. But, at the end of the day, choosing a pediatrician is a very personal decision and sometimes a doctor and a practice just “feels right.”