Preparing for a new baby is a lot of hard work. Not only do future parents need to prepare their home and buy things such as clothes and food, but they need to find a good pediatrician. Finding a pediatrician for a new baby or even an older child is not that different from choosing any good health professional. There needs to be some compatibility between the doctor and the patient, the doctor has to have strong credentials and references, and the practice needs to accept the patient’s health insurance. All of this is true for choosing any doctor, but choosing a pediatrician has its own considerations. Here are just four that parents should keep in mind.
Choosing a Hospital or a Private Practice
According to Peter H. Short, M.D., FAAP, solo practices are smaller and more intimate. However that means when the doctor is away on vacation, or when they are not on call at night, a stranger may have to answer any questions or see the patient in the original care provider’s absence. That accurately sums up the advantages and disadvantages of a private practice. A pediatrician with a private practice will get to know patients and their families better than the staff of a hospital practice, but that pediatrician is also only one person, and they may not be available at all times.
On the other hand, a hospital practice will always have several medical professionals on hand to treat patients and answer questions. The Allied Health Institute lists other advantages to a hospital practice such as support from other departments and managing doctors who make scheduling appointments that much easier. However, patients do lose the intimate and familiar nature that only comes with a private practice. Children are more comfortable when they know those who are treating them, and they are unlikely to get that from a hospital.
In the end, the decision to go with a hospital or a private practice comes down to convenience versus familiarity. A hospital is probably more convenient for patients who need treatment at a moment’s notice, but there is something to be said for being treated by a doctor who knows their patient well.
Choosing a Nearby Practice
Most parents are acutely aware that medical emergencies can happen at any time of the day or night, and it’s important that they can get their child to a doctor quickly. There are hospitals and private pediatric practices in or near just about every neighborhood, and it is relatively easy for a parent to find a pediatrician near them. This pediatrician should be close enough to visit after a short drive, and it should be open late enough to accommodate late-night emergencies.
References and Referrals
Of course, simply choosing a pediatrician just because they are nearby is never a good idea. Parents should get referrals and references from friends, family members and other medical professionals so that they can make an informed decision. Angela Haupt, the health and wellness editor of U.S. News, suggests that service seekers go online and read reviews of different pediatricians and practices as well. This can usually be accomplished with a quick Google search, so there is no reason why someone wouldn’t do this.
Visiting a Pediatrician
The best way to truly choose a pediatrician is to visit one personally. Reading reviews and getting referrals is a great first step, but there is no substitute for personal experience. A consultation will tell parents and their children whether a pediatrician is right for them, and it is possibly the most important step in the search.