by Vinson Diep, MD
Choosing a pediatrician is an important decision for parents. With so many options available, how should parents go about finding the right fit for their family? Here are some important things to consider when you are looking for a pediatrician.
1. When should parents look for a pediatrician?
As soon as you can! Many pediatricians do prenatal interviews, which gives parents a chance to visit the office, meet the staff, and talk with the pediatrician. Some parents meet with different pediatricians, so starting earlier gives parents the peace of mind and not have to decide at the last moment.
2. What qualifications should parents look for?
Parents should make sure a pediatrician is board certified. Board certification is important as it means the pediatrician has met all the necessary requirements set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This involves graduating from medical school, completing residency, and passing a standard board examination.
3. What should parents consider when looking at how the office operates?
One aspect that is often overlooked is where the office is located. Is the office easy to get to? Is there ample parking? If your child needs an x-ray or blood work, are there places convenient to the office? In addition, does the office accept your insurance?
When your child is sick, you’ll want to get an appointment quickly. You’ll want to know all about how the doctor’s office schedules appointments. Do they do same day appointments? Are there walk-in appointments? Also an important aspect is ease of communication with the office and pediatrician. Are there reminder phone calls, e-mails, or text messages to remind you of your upcoming appointment? Do they have a communication or messaging app? How quick will they to respond to your concerns? Lastly, if your child needs to see a specialist, how easy is it to get a referral, and will there be coordination between your pediatrician’s office and the specialist office?
4. What questions should parents ask prospective pediatricians?
Pediatricians play an important role in a child’s life, so you want to make sure you have a pediatrician who is a good fit for you. Ideally, you may want to look for a pediatrician who aligns with your beliefs. What is their stance on vaccinations? With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, what accommodations did the doctor provide? Ask if they participate in telemedicine or if they offer telephone visits.
Parents will want a pediatrician who is easy to communicate with and who you feel you are able to voice concerns to. Every child is different, and you don’t want to feel that the doctor is just placing your child through an algorithm. There are subtleties pediatricians are trained to recognize. Some pediatricians see kids until 18, but some see until age 21 or even later, so knowing that ahead of time helps you plan for that transition when it happens. You can also find out a lot about a prospective physician by visiting their website if they have one.
5. Any other remarks on choosing a pediatrician?
Don’t be afraid to talk to family, friends, coworkers, and anyone else to try to see what the pediatrician’s reputation is in the community. At the end of the day, choosing a pediatrician is like choosing a car. The type of car that is right for you, might not be right for everyone else, so don’t feel bad meeting and talking with multiple pediatricians before finding the best fit for you and your family. You want to find someone who will treat your child as if he or she was their own, someone who you can trust to work with you to best take care of your keiki. Pediatricians are doctors who enjoy taking care of kids, and it is a joy for us to watch them grow up!