As you begin the search for your little one’s health care provider, here’s what you need to keep in mind (and that includes keeping an open mind). Like me, you might be surprised where you end up.
A quick Google search will reveal your options for pediatric care, but don’t start tapping on your keyboard just yet. You’ll undoubtedly find plenty of potential but no quick way of sifting through it all. So, begin by asking friends, family members and co-workers with young children if they’d recommend their pediatrician. Jot down any contenders, and if a particular practice or doctor’s name comes up a lot, start there.
Another resource you may not have considered is your OB. Mine gave me three suggestions of places nearby, which worked out well because my doctor’s office is a two-minute drive from my home.
Once you have your list, now’s the time to do a bit of research. Visit a practice’s website to get a feel for its approach to care. Find out the basics, like where it’s located (and if it has multiple branches), what the operating hours are, if they accept your health insurance and how many care providers they have. Look for information specifically for new and expectant parents; many will have a list of FAQs or a number to call to schedule an introductory visit.
Meet and greet
Narrow down your list to the top contenders that you’d like to get to know in person. Most pediatricians offer a regularly scheduled open house for parents-to-be to meet the doctors, take a quick tour of the office and ask any questions they might have. These informal get-togethers are usually held in the evenings after the practice has closed, so you’ll have the whole place to yourselves … well, you and all the other pregnant mamas.
Worth noting: In my experience these occurred monthly, and not every care provider would be at every event. So, don’t wait too long to call and ask when the next open house is and which doctors will be attending, especially if you’re interested in meeting someone in particular.
During your visit, pay attention to the three P’s: the place, their philosophy on care and the pediatrician.
- How long has the office been in practice?
- Is it close to home? (When your child is sick and crying in the backseat, you’ll be grateful if you don’t have to drive across town.)
- How clean is it? Is the waiting area— including furniture, books, toys—sanitized regularly?
- Are there separate waiting rooms for sick and well children? (Some even have a third room designated for newborns.)
- Are the exam rooms clean and well maintained?