One of the many things on any new mothers mind is picking the right pediatrician for your growing family. Although you may have someone in mind who is highly recommended by family and friends, there are a few things you must consider before making a final decision.
Hours of Operation In the beginning you will more than likely be home with your new baby so this is not an issue. However, if you are a working mother who will be returning to work after maternity leave this is something you need to consider. Find out if they are open after five on weekdays or if they are open at all on weekends. Having a doctor that offers flexible hours is definitely a bonus for busy moms.
Who Is On Call After-hours It may not seem that important now,but when you wake in the middle of the night to find your baby has a fever it becomes extremely important. Almost all doctors have an after-hours answering service; what you need to find out is who is going to be calling you back? Will it be your doctor,who knows you and your child, or will it be a nurse who will just refer you to an emergency room?
Which Hospital(s) Is Your Doctor Associated With If you live in a larger city then more likely than not there will be a children’s hospital which all pediatricians recommend. If you do not have access to a children’s hospital, you need to know what hospital your doctor is associated with. Hopefully it will never come up but if it does you want to make sure that it is a hospital that you are comfortable with and that is not all the way across town.
How Many Patients Do They Attend To In many cases I have found that a doctors patient load is extremely overwhelming. They may be highly recommended and have a large practice but is that necessarily a good thing? If your child is sick the last thing you want is to be told you cannot get an appointment for a day or two or be sitting for hours in a waiting room full of other sick children.
Will The Doctor Make Time To Meet You Ahead Of Time It has been my experience that most doctors are willing to do this for new patients. The important thing for you to do is make sure you ask the right questions. Make a list of your concerns prior to meeting with them so you know you are prepared. A question that is often forgotten about (and doctors have vastly different opinions on) is if they believe in a mothers instinct. Friends,family, and parenting books will tell you to “trust your instincts”. I had an unfortunate experience involving a doctor who did not believe in a mothers instinct but felt I was suffering from “new mother worries”. Let’s just say I will never doubt my mothers instinct again or let my gut feeling be brushed aside for being a new (or young) mother.
Do You Want A Group Of Practitioners Or A Solo Practitioner You have to decide for yourself what is best for you.They both have their strong points. On the one hand, with a group you know there will almost always be open appointments with one of the doctors and you do not have to worry about what may happen if your doctor is on vacation. On the other hand, if you have a solo practitioner you know that you will always see the same doctor, making it easier for you to build a relationship with the doctor. This is helpful because you will be more likely to know your child’s habits and history as opposed to just what is written on a chart. Ultimately the decision is up to you who you decide is right for your family. Take the advice of family and friends but don’t be afraid to go out and find one on your own either. With all the things a mother has to worry about, knowing that you have a doctor you are comfortable with and confident in will make you feel more at ease when your little one isn’t feeling well. Take it from someone who learned the hard way, having the right doctor can make all the difference in the world when faced with an emergency.