One of the most difficult tasks facing new parents is choosing a pediatrician. While it is both difficult and nerve-wracking, keep in mind that the end goal is to choose a good doctor to help your family understand your child’s development. You want to make sure that you are also on the same page with your personalities, parenting styles and beliefs. For example, if you are not planning on breast feeding, make sure that the pediatrician you choose does not feel that exclusive breast feeding is the only way to feed babies. Long Island houses many great pediatricians, so here is a tried and true checklist that will always help you.
One thing to remember – choosing a pediatrician is not a permanent decision that you have to stick with for the rest of your life. If at any point you are not happy, you can always make a change. As your child grows, your needs as as family will change and potentially the pediatrician that is right for you right now will not be the best choice for you in the future.
What to Look For When Choosing a Pediatrician
Most importantly, you need to look for a pediatrician who
- has a medical license,
- has a solid reputation. You can easily learn if a Pediatrician is licensed or board certified looking online at www.op.nysed.gov/opsearches.htm. It’s also good to know if the pediatrician is board certified in the area of Pediatrics, which is not a requirement to practice. However, being board certified is the gold standard in any medical specialty field.
Your health insurance plan will also play a major role in choosing a pediatrician for your family. As you will be visiting your pediatrician on a regular basis, having one who participates in your insurance plan makes financial sense. Insurance does not have to be a deal breaker if you feel that the pediatrician is worth paying cash for and they are affordable, but those who do accept your insurance are a great place to start.
Some Friendly Advice
You can get some great advice from your friends – use them. Ask who their pediatricians are, if they are happy and why they chose the specific pediatrician. Start with moms who are similar in personality and beliefs to yours and ask them how their experiences have been with their pediatrician.
Meet the Doctor
After you’ve created a short list of potential doctors, call each office to make an appointment for a consultation. Consider your consultation like a job interview – you are interviewing potential candidates to see if they would be a good match to take care of your child. Questions to ask a pediatrician should include things like “will you be available when my child is born?”, “what are your feelings on breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding?” and “who covers your patients when you are unavailable?” See if you are comfortable with the doctor and discuss anything that is important to you. You’ll also want to ask if the doctor has privileges at the hospital where you will deliver, and if not, what their procedures are for seeing the baby after he/she is born. While you are in the office, look around at the staff and the office and see if you feel comfortable there. Also looking at other patients in the waiting room may give you a feel for the doctor – are there a lot of people waiting, are sick children separated from well children, are small babies brought in immediately? You won’t always be able to answer these questions, but judging the body language and attitudes of other patients may be helpful.
Once you make your final decision and choose a pediatrician, you may want to give the office a call to let them know about your decision and your expected due date. Once again, you’ll confirm whether the pediatrician will see your baby at the hospital after birth or when you should call to make your first appointment. It’s best to choose your pediatrician in your 6th or 7th month of pregnancy so that you are prepared to give the doctor’s information to the hospital when you give birth.
Overall, choosing a pediatrician is a big decision for both you and your baby and you should be comfortable with the decision you make,