What to Look for in a Pediatrician

Maybe you just had your first baby or recently moved, or maybe you’re simply searching for a new doctor for your child. You don’t know where to begin in your search, and even if you’ve searched for pediatricians in the past, there is so much to consider that you’re feeling overwhelmed before you’ve even begun. Choosing a pediatrician for your child or children is a big decision, and it’s not one that parents should take lightly. Here are a few things to consider as you look for a pediatrician. 

Think About Referrals & Reviews

As you begin your search, ask around and do some digging online. Ask friends in the area if they recommend anyone in particular, and ask them about their experiences with pediatricians they may not recommend. Think about the things that are important to you in a doctor, and ask them their opinion on those topics with specific doctors they mention. Things like wait time, after-hours procedures, and so on. Also be sure to read reviews online, if available. Not all doctors are listed on websites like Health Grades, but some will have reviews from patients that will give you some good information. 

Consider Age & Gender

For most parents, the age and gender of their pediatrician aren’t super important. However, some parents may prefer a young female doctor while others prefer an older male, and so on. Some parents may prefer younger doctors for their more progressive attitudes and alternative mindsets regarding pediatric care. Other parents, however, may prefer older pediatricians who have decades of experience and education. The most important part is that you and your children feel comfortable with the doctor you are seeing. The age and gender may not matter as much when your children are young, but if your teenager is uncomfortable seeing a pediatrician of the opposite gender, that’s something to take into consideration. 

Consider Personal Philosophy & Attitude 

If you have strong opinions about medical care, procedures, or policies, it’s a good idea to go through a sort of “interview” process with potential pediatricians before making an appointment. You want to ensure your personal philosophies are in line with the pediatrician you’re seeing to ensure you feel comfortable and supported in your child’s care. You can ask the doctors how they feel about breastfeeding, circumcision, antibiotics as a first option, and so on. Even if you find a doctor you love who doesn’t necessarily line up perfectly with your personal ideals, they should be respectful and treat you well during discussions and your child’s appointments.  

Research Open Hours & After-Hours Policies

You want to make sure the doctor’s office will accommodate your schedule. If you work long hours or the office isn’t super close to your home, you want to make sure you can make it to appointments during the pediatrician’s open hours. You should also look into their after-hours policies in case you have an emergency or urgent health concern. Some pediatricians have a nurse’s line that you can call to ask questions at any time, and some have weekend or night hours to accommodate difficult schedules or unexpected medical concerns. Find out about this ahead of time rather than waiting until you’re in the midst of a health issue that needs immediate attention.

Think About Logistics and Small Details 

The final thing to consider and look for in a pediatrician is all the fine details of who they are, what their office is like, and what type of care your child will get from him or her. You need to be sure that the pediatrician is going to give you plenty of time during appointments to ask questions, while not making you wait in the lobby for an hour after your appointment time. You want to make sure the office staff is kind and helpful and that the nurses and nurse practitioners are attentive and good with your kids. You want to make sure your pediatrician is informing you of the risks and benefits of anything they’re recommending or prescribing, and that they involve you in all decisions that are made regarding your child and his or her health. You also want to be sure the office is in a convenient location so that you can get these easily, and you should ask about payment and insurance options before going to an appointment so that you’re prepared financially and aren’t met with any surprises.