When we moved from New England down to Florida, it was difficult to choose a pediatrician. We had a wonderful doctor for our children up north, and I was pretty sure that we wouldn’t find someone to fill his shoes. For a short time, we actually coasted by with no primary care physician for our kids, which, in hindsight, wasn’t the best move: If they had gotten sick, it would have been the luck of the draw when it came to choosing a pediatrician on short notice. Once we made some friends in the area, though, I talked to other moms about which doctors in the area were the best. I’m happy to report that we love our new pediatrician: She’s just as good as the one we left behind!
Whether you’re expecting your first baby, have moved to another state or have had your pediatrician retire, it may be time to choose a new pediatrician. Here are some tips on making the best choice for your family:
- Try to get recommendations if possible. These might be from other moms, from your own primary care physician or, if your current pediatrician is retiring, from him. It’s always better to know that someone else had a great experience with a doctor, than to just choose someone at random out of the phone book or off of your insurance provider list.
- Once you have some recommendations, make sure that the doctor in question participates with your insurance company. Also, consider where the office is located: While a 20-minute drive might not seem very inconvenient for well-visits, it might be difficult to make the trip during inclement weather when your child is sick with the flu or a stomach virus.
- Ask the front desk staff about office hours. Also, find out what happens if your child becomes sick after hours or on the weekends, as well as which hospital(s) the doctor is affiliated with. It’s best if the hospital closest to your home is one at which he has permissions; otherwise, your child could be admitted and wouldn’t be able to be treated by her doctor.
- Interview the doctor. Make an appointment, and take a careful look at the cleanliness of the waiting room and treatment rooms. If your child has any health concerns, bring them up to the doctor. Ask any questions that you’d like in order to ensure that the doctor’s style is compatible with yours. For example, if you prefer to try home remedies before resorting to medications, find out if the doctor is supportive and knowledgeable about home treatments.
- Schedule an appointment for a check-up for your child. If there is an issue regarding bedside manner, it’s best to find this out before your child gets ill. Again, ask questions about your child’s development and make sure that you get full answers, not medical jargon. Also, pay attention to how long you were kept waiting and if the doctor seems overbooked. (It’s okay to have to wait weeks or a month for a well-visit, but if your child is sick, he should be seen that day or the next day.)
Once you have found the pediatrician of your dreams, be sure to update your child’s insurance cards with the new information!
Have you had to choose a pediatrician due to a move or other changes? Do you have additional advice to add?