Being an ER pediatrician, I am constantly being asked by my patients’ moms, friends, and family who I recommend as a pediatrician – as well as how I picked my own child’s doctor. Well, to be completely honest, happening upon my own pediatrician kind of came organically. But there are tips I can share with you on how to choose the best pediatrician to fit your family’s needs.
How to Choose a Pediatrician
My father is a pediatric surgeon and had recommended one of the pediatricians he works closely with at the hospital. However, this was my own experience, and I know I got really lucky! I completely understand the stress that is involved in choosing a pediatrician. So I’ve broken down the process into three easy steps!
The First Step
First of all, do not become overwhelmed and panic.
Realize that nothing is written in stone, and you CAN change your mind!
If you find you are not comfortable with your first choice doctor, there are plenty of other options.
I always tell my moms picking a pediatrician is like picking a partner. This person is going to be intimately involved in your child’s life and yours – for potentially 18 years – so it is important to know your wants and needs and to find the person who meets those criteria.
The Second Step
Next, decide what schedule will work best for your family. Ask yourself, “What kind of office hours will work best for me?” Many of my moms work full time and need a practice that is open early in the morning, late at night, and on weekends. So for my working moms, you may need a bigger practice. One that has many doctors on staff and longer hours of business.
Next, ask yourself, “Do I want a big practice or a small practice?” I think this decision is one of the most important elements. It is important to understand the pros and cons of both types of practices and have a clear understanding of how the size of the practice is going to affect you and your child.
Size May Matter
Let’s go over some differences in more detail.
A Bigger Practice – A bigger practice may allow you to see a doctor at almost any time. Many people find this perk to be very important. If their child has a fever, they want to know they can call and get an appointment that day.
However, there is a large chance that you won’t see the same doctor every time, and your appointment will likely be on the shorter side.
A Smaller Practice – A smaller practice will probably provide you with a more intimate experience. For many parents, nothing else matters! They want to develop a relationship with their pediatrician and feel like their doctor really knows their child.
I am not saying you can’t find that type of experience in a larger practice, but it is definitely more difficult.
The con of a smaller practice is that getting in touch with or making an appointment on short notice with your physician may be a little more challenging.
The Third Step
Finally, you have to ask about the philosophy of the practice, especially when it comes to vaccines and now with COVID-19 protocols. It is important for you and your doctor to have the same ideas about protecting and treating your children.
If breastfeeding is important to you, it would be ideal to have a pediatrician who also values that journey. If you have concerns about recommended vaccines or vaccine schedules, ask if the practice does or does not have any wiggle room in their vaccine schedule. If you have a family history of certain diseases, it may be important to you that your pediatrician know about those issues.
You definitely want to know about any differences in ideology BEFORE you make office visits.
Final Thoughts on How to Choose the Best Pediatrician
I have two more tips to help you in your quest of finding the perfect pediatrician:
- Interview your pediatrician ahead of time and bring a list of questions you might have about the practice and their policies. Make sure to ask where your physician has hospital privileges and about the practice’s after hours policy.
- Find a friend who has the same ideology as you when it comes to medicine, and ask for a referral. Make sure to ask what they like and dislike about the practice.
I hope these tips help in your journey to finding the perfect pediatrician for your family!