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Perhaps you’re expecting your first child, and you’re trying to find a pediatrician who can take over your child’s care once he or she is born. Or maybe you need to switch from your current pediatrician due to a move or some other issue. Either way, it’s important to take the time to find the right doctor for both you and your child.
Here are some helpful tips to follow when you’re looking for a new pediatrician:
Word-of-mouth referrals for a pediatrician are some of the best types of referrals you can receive — especially if they are from trusted friends and family members. People who have had firsthand experience with a particular doctor can often give you valuable information that will help you make a decision. If you’re new to an area and don’t have anyone you trust to ask for a referral, try looking at this American Academy of Pediatrics pediatrician referral database.
You can easily search for a pediatrician by ZIP code or city and doctor specialty. During a search, a list of pediatricians in the area you are interested in will come up. Once you click on a specific doctor’s name, you can view details, such as each pediatrician’s contact information, education and training, and languages spoken.
Look at Each Pediatrician’s Credentials
If you locate pediatricians via the AAP database, you’ll know whether or not they are certified by the AAP. This is important because it means that the pediatrician passed a specialized and rigorous exam. If a friend or family member refers a pediatrician to you, you’ll need to look up the pediatrician’s name in the AAP database to see if they are a member of the AAP.
It’s also important that the pediatrician has FAAP after his or her name, which means that the pediatrician is not only a member of the AAP but also engages in frequent training and has the most up-to-date knowledge in the field. If a doctor doesn’t have FAAP after their name, know that they might not be aware of the latest information that is available, which could affect the quality of medical care your child receives.
Check Out Each Pediatrician’s Website
You can learn a lot from visiting the pediatrician’s website. For example, if it’s important to you that the pediatrician has his or her own children — firsthand experience raising kids — you can often find out on the website via the doctor’s bio.
Other important information, such as whether or not the office allows for sick patient walk-in appointments, may also be present. For example, the website http://pediatriccenter.com/ states: “If our sick patients walk in without an appointment, we will be happy to see them.”
You can also often download new patient forms and find out which health insurance companies the pediatrician partners with to see if your insurance is compatible.
Ask for a Preliminary Consultation
Although you may have been able to find out some information about the pediatrician you’re considering from friends or family members who referred you, it’s still wise to ask for a face-to-face consultation before you make your final decision.
For example, if you have strong beliefs or opinions about certain topics such as vaccines or breastfeeding, it’s important that you decide on a pediatrician whose opinions and beliefs most closely align with yours or you risk friction.
A consultation will also give you the opportunity to find out other things. For example, if the pediatrician you’re considering works with a group, will your child have to see another doctor at times? Does the pediatrician seem to have a compassionate and patient demeanor? Will the pediatrician take the time to discuss things with you that you feel are important — like how to get your child to eat more vegetables?
Check Out the Office Environment
A pediatrician may be the best, most-caring individual in the world, but if the office environment is off-putting, you’ll want to know about it before committing to bringing your child there.
For example, if the office only has a small, crowded waiting room where sick and well children will have to be in close contact, it’s probably not a good idea to go there. Look for an office that has separate rooms for children who are contagious.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the overall vibe in the office. Does the staff seem to get along well or is there noticeable tension in the air? Does the office sanitize the toys each day and keep separate toys for sick and well children?
Choosing a pediatrician for your child is an important decision. Although it takes time and effort to find out whether a pediatrician is right for you and your child, it’s time well spent.