As a new or soon to be parent, you might think to yourself what are the things to look for in a pediatrician? For brand new parents, this thought can be particularly daunting. With a new baby, so many things in the life of a parent change at once. While you once only had to take care of your own health and wellbeing, you now have to look out for the health of a new human being.
So many questions come into play with a new baby. How much should they sleep and eat? What do you do if they don’t sleep or start to lose weight? How do I know if my child shows healthy growth and improvement?
As a new parent, more often than not, you need to rely on others to get the answers you need. Your family, especially your own parents, can provide your first level of support. Beyond family, though, you need someone more to turn to than your favorite blog writer. You need to have a pediatrician that you can trust and confide in.
In this post, we want to help set you off on the right foot in looking for a pediatrician. Below we outline 6 helpful things to look for in a pediatrician. Finding someone that you trust to take care of your child can take time and effort. We want to help take away some of the challenge of that process with these simple helpful tips.
#1 Is the Office Staff Helpful and Accommodating?
Among the things to look for in a pediatrician you need to think of examining the whole practice. After all, while the doctor will provide direct care for your child, the whole practice either strengthens or weakens that care. You need to make sure that the whole staff and practice want to provide the best service possible.
To find out about the office and support staff, you really need to visit the practice a few times. Try both going into the office and then calling on the phone and at different times of day. When you visit in person, take time to observe how the staff engages in conversations with clients in the practice and on the phone. Do they take time to stop and listen to clients? Do they pay attention to the children or just speak to the adults?
Some of these things might seem minor at first, but you have to remember that your relationship with your pediatrician will last several years. The last thing you want is to pick a pediatrician and then find out a few months later that the office staff doesn’t care about you or your child. Ultimately, the demeanor of the staff speaks to the atmosphere in the practice overall. You need to check off a positive atmosphere as one of the things to look for in a pediatrician. If the staff takes time and care in every interaction with patients then you can be reasonably certain that you will get the same care when you call or visit.
#2 Do the Office Hours Fit what You Need?
Next on your things to look for in a pediatrician should include your pediatrician’s general availability. Does the doctor have availability when you most likely would schedule regular appointments? Can he or she accommodate your normal work and household schedule?
Let’s face it, the best pediatricians simply don’t have enough hours in the day and at the right times of day to take all the patients. Pediatricians might seem like super humans, but at the end of the day, they are just like the rest of us. A day in the life of a pediatrician looks similar to many of our working days. They can only work so many hours and get so much done before they have to call it quits.
In looking around at pediatricians, you really need to consider what that pediatrician’s current client load looks like. Additionally, you need to look deeper under the surface with this one. Not only do you want to know their overall load, you want to specifically ask the pediatrician when they normally see the most patients and when they currently have time for more clients. If the answer they give means that you really can only see them during your lunch hour or at the earliest time of the day, you might want to reconsider.
No pediatrician will be able to fit your schedule just perfectly. Still, though, you want a pediatrician who has some time and space to work with you. How flexible a doctor is with you should be one of the things to look for in a pediatrician. If they don’t have any flexibility to work your needs in, you really should start looking somewhere else.
#3 Does the Pediatrician Welcome Questions?
A third piece on your list of things to look for in a pediatrician needs to involve whether your doctor welcomes your input or not. This category follows along with our prior item about knowing if the staff is helpful and accommodating. Both things point to whether your pediatrician cares about you as a person or just sees you as another illness.
We all know that doctors treat illness. Still that doesn’t mean that the only thing your pediatrician does is treat illness. After all, you and your child are more than a problem to be fixed.
You are people with emotions and input of your own. You need to consider whether your potential pediatrician sees you as a person to communicate with. Ultimately, your doctor should welcome questions from you as the patient.
Since you plan on seeing your pediatrician for many years, you want someone that you can connect with. They might not end up being a close friend. Still, they should know something of your likes and dislikes and your thoughts and opinions.
To get to the bottom of whether or not a pediatrician welcomes questions, you really need to pay attention when you first meet them. During your interview with a pediatrician, do they ask you questions to see if you would fit in with their practice? When you try to engage them more than just on talking about disease, do they show genuine interest in your feelings?
These things matter because how your pediatrician sees your input can direct how your relationship with them develops. In addition to talking with the pediatrician, try your hardest to ask longtime patients how they interact with the pediatrician. Many of these long-term patients can give you the best gauge of how the pediatrician really interacts with their patients.
#4 How Does the Pediatrician Interact with Children?
Ultimately, you act as the client to any potential pediatrician. The doctor’s office will view you as the client. You set up the appointments. You pay the bills. Nevertheless, while you handle most of the communication and business, the pediatrician cares for your child. Interacting with adults is one thing, but as one of the things to look for in a pediatrician you really need to know how the pediatrician interacts with children.
This interaction matters because it could potentially impact how your child grows up to view doctors and medical care. If your pediatrician doesn’t even like children, then they will have a hard time showing genuine care and affection for your child. Ultimately, the care your child receives might then become a cold distant transaction. If this is the interaction that your child receives from their pediatrician, they may grow to view any medical care as distant and uncomfortable.
Ultimately, you don’t want a pediatrician who doesn’t interact well with children. You want a pediatrician who can show affection while providing outstanding physical and emotional care. Again, you can get some glimpses into how a pediatrician might interact with patients by visiting their practice. Asking other patients will also help give you an idea of this.
One other way you can get a feel for how the practice interacts with children is also to look at how their offices are set up. Is the office kid friendly? Do they have toys and games for children? Are the posters on the wall child oriented or adult oriented? This doesn’t mean that if the practice’s offices are more oriented towards adults, they won’t interact well with children. Rather, it means that you might need to ask more questions if the offices don’t seem the most welcoming for a child.
#5 Does the Doctor’s Office take your Insurance Plan?
The fifth item of things to look for in a pediatrician involves the really practical side of things. Let’s just say it: we need to talk about money. Before you start looking around for the most perfect pediatrician, you need to first do your research on who takes your insurance. After all, the last thing you want to do is to find the perfect pediatrician and then find out that they don’t accept your insurance and your out of pocket expenses cost more than your mortgage.
While we want the best for our child, we also need to make sure we can afford the best. Sometimes, we won’t get what we want most, but we can get something pretty good nonetheless. This same idea applies to shopping for a car. You might never buy that Camaro you always wanted. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t have a great car that provides you and your family great and safe transportation.
Before you start interviewing pediatricians, find out from your employer or from your insurance provider a list of practices that accept your insurance. After you have a list, you can then start to go through that list for potential pediatricians.
Alternatively, you can still get advice from friends on doctors they may recommend. After getting suggestions, though, you still need to make sure with your insurance that that specific doctor takes your plan. Otherwise, you more than likely will waste your time interviewing doctors you can’t afford.
In the end, your first-choice pediatrician might take your insurance. You might still get the Camaro. Still, you want to start off on the right foot. Make sure you check for an insurance match early in your search for a pediatrician.
#6 Do their Values Fit your Own?
The final item on your things to look for in a pediatrician needs to include a values examination. Consider your lifestyle and what matters most to yourself and your family. Now ask your potential doctor about the same things as well as the support staff. Find out what their interests are and really see how well they align with your own view on things. Ultimately, values matter in life and values matter in healthcare, as well.
You might initially think that values might not factor into the equation, but again you need to consider that you will have a long-term relationship with your pediatrician. You need to know that your pediatrician is someone that you can trust and confide in. If they have a very different worldview and set of values, there might be a good chance that you might after a while feel like you can’t trust or talk to your doctor. In the end, having different values can sink your relationship faster than almost any other criteria.
If community involvement matters to you, you need to find out if your pediatrician gets involved in the community around them. If you value large families with many kids, you need to find out if your doctor has a similar view or sees the ideal family as having only one child. These things make a different, especially over an extended relationship. Take the time before you pick a pediatrician to really find out if your values line up. You will appreciate that effort you made later on as you get to know your pediatrician a lot more throughout the years.
Understanding All the Things to Look for in a Pediatrician
Becoming a new parent is difficult on its own. After you leave the hospital you no longer have any nurses to depend upon. You now have to learn to care for and help aid in the growth of a new human being.
If you didn’t know before you left the hospital, parenting tests you. No matter who you are or were, you will find that caring for a child presents challenges you never would have imagined. To help overcome those challenges, you need to have a pediatrician that you can turn to and trust.
Many things ultimately play into a good relationship with a pediatrician. While you can never predict everything about a potential pediatrician, you nevertheless can set yourself up for success by being prepared. A few weeks or months before your baby is due, you need to start your search for a pediatrician in earnest.
Start looking around with using this list as a guide. Ask to meet with and interview pediatricians. Talk to friends and talk to staff at different practices.
While you might find several pediatricians that just don’t fit for some reason, the hope is that you will find one that will fit just right. You have a lot of things to consider with a new child. Take some of the guess work out of finding the perfect pediatrician. Use this post and other resources to give yourself a leg up in locating the doctor who might be just right for you and your family.