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Finding the Right Pediatrician for You

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There are many things to consider when choosing your baby's pediatrician. From the interview process to health insurance, here are a few tips to get you started.

mother and daughter interviewing pediatrician

Lara Shriftman: When choosing your pediatrician, it is important to interview at least three doctors. You should ask ten of your friends whose judgment you trust who they recommend.

Here are some of the many things you should consider in your search:

The Interview
You should start interviewing between 6 to 8 months into your pregnancy. Come prepared with a list of questions to ask the doctor.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing your pediatrician:
• How close is his or her office to where you live?
• Is the hospital he is affiliated with the same hospital where you will be giving birth?
• Do you like his bedside manner?
Do you like his medical philosophy?
What kind of medical insurance does he take?

The Pink and Blue Toddler and Preschooler Pages by Laurie Waldstein and Leslie Zinberg is a very helpful and informative book, with several great pointers for picking the right doctor for you:

• Is the doctor's nurse or nurse-practitioner available for answering questions? Do you feel comfortable talking to him or her?
• Does the doctor have a partner or associate? Is someone always on call day or night? How often is the doctor on call?
• How quickly can you see the doctor when your child is sick? Can you call and come in the same day?
• What are the doctor's fees? Are they comparable to other doctors in the area?
• Are there specific hours when the doctor answers the phone? (As a new parent, you will have many questions. Remember to write them down before calling your pediatrician!)
• Consider whether you place importance on the doctor's age. Several parents chose the pediatrician they had as a child.
• Consider the doctor's gender. Some parents prefer a pediatrician who is the same sex as their child.

Once you have chosen your doctor, consider the following:
• Take a look around the office. Is it child-friendly, with enough toys, pictures, and books to keep your baby or toddler busy during the wait to see the doctor?
• If you are visiting your doctor during office hours, ask parents in the waiting room about their experience with the doctor; have these been positive? Find out how long they typically wait to see the doctor.
• Do sick and healthy children wait in the same waiting room? Some pediatricians schedule healthy and sick children at different times of the day, and will let patients know what the situation is in the waiting room when they call in with an emergency.

Medical Insurance
It is important to research health insurance plans and benefits. In my case, it was cheaper for me to get my son his own health insurance plan rather than adding him to mine.

TIP: Pay close attention to the monthly payments and copayments for office visits. For the first year, your baby will have to go to the doctor once a month for checkups and immunizations. Your monthly rate will decrease from year 1 to year 2.

For me, the trusted friends I asked for recommendations all pointed me to the same person: Dr. Peter Waldstein.

After meeting with Dr. Waldstein, I knew that he was the right pediatrician for me. He has been in practice for several years, and has a very warm office environment and very attentive and organized nurses. When I first visited his office, he came out and greeted me personally. He listened to all of my questions and patiently answered them without just agreeing with everything I said. He made sure to explain himself on points where his opinion differed from mine. A couple of weeks after I met with him, he took the time to send me an article in the mail that he had found which discussed some of the issues we had covered in the interview.

He is very involved in the community, has great references, and has always been extremely helpful and informative. He also works on the weekend, and let me know that I could always bring my son to his office or he could come to my house if my son was sick on the weekend.

Helpful resources:

The Pink and Blue Toddler and Preschooler Pages by Laurie Waldstein and Leslie Zinberg

City Baby L.A.,: The Ultimate Guide for Los Angeles Parents from Pregnancy through Preschool by Linda Friedman Meadow and Lisa Rocchio -- This guide is for parents raising children in Los Angeles; however, their tips for finding the right pediatrician are applicable for a parent in any city.

next: It's Still All About Me, Right?
1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Natalie  June 20, 2010, 7:48 PM

These tips for finding a doctor are great! It is so important to start the search early as it always takes longer than you think.

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