How to Find the Right Pediatrician

Pediatrics is a branch of medicine specializing in child well-being from birth to 21 years of age. These doctors not only provide regular checkups and vaccinations, but they are also trained to diagnose and create treatment plans for physical, developmental, psychological, or behavioral issues that may arise.

While an adult’s primary doctor forms a relationship largely with only the patient, a pediatrician should have a relationship with the patient as well as her parents. Finding a good pediatrician is crucial to your child’s wellbeing. Here’s a look at what to look for in a good pediatrician, the signs of a bad one, and how to find the right one for you.

What Makes a Good Pediatrician?

A good pediatrician will be communicative, compassionate, and open to parental thoughts and opinions. He should be knowledgeable not just in the basic field of pediatrics but have specialized training, such as child development or childhood disease prevention.

The office and waiting room should be neat, clean, and his staff should be polite and cordial. They should provide fast and efficient service, and the wait time should be short. When the doctor sees your child, he should be focused on your child and you and should be prepared to take the time to answer questions and explain any concerns.

What Makes a Bad Pediatrician?

If a pediatric office has rude and unhelpful staff or is packed to the gills with waiting patients, that’s not a good sign. Disorganization and clutter is a sure sign he operates the same way. But perhaps the most important consideration is a doctor’s bedside manner.

It doesn’t matter if he has six different specialties and an IQ of 300 — if he can’t pause and kindly explain a problem to a parent, he’s not a good pediatrician. A doctor who can’t or won’t establish camaraderie with your child is another bad sign. Making your child feel comfortable should be your doctor’s first goal.

Where can I find a pediatrician?

Your newborn will need a pediatrician within five days of her birth, so start looking before you go into labor. If you are unfamiliar with pediatricians in your area, most insurance companies can provide you with preferred providers in your area — meaning pediatric offices your insurance company works with and will cover visits to.

However, if you haven’t found a doctor by the time you’ve delivered, the pediatrician or other staff who work with you in the hospital are a great source for referrals. Furthermore, if your newborn has any complications, the hospital may be able to give you a better idea of pediatricians who specialize in that particular complication.

Family and friends are also a great source of referrals, and they can tell you more specifically about their experiences with an office than someone from a hospital or insurance provider can. Talk to other parents you trust about their own doctors. Social media sites like Facebook also have referral options that can provide a wider basis than your closest gal pal.

If you have a few options but are having trouble making the final decision, call around. You can ask a few short questions over the phone or schedule a prenatal interview with the doctor. This can be extremely helpful in comparing skills beyond where they went to medical school or what they specialize in.

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