When you have a new baby, selecting a pediatrician is a major decision. The provider you choose may be your child's primary care physician for the next 18 years. Here are some questions you can use to help you find the right pediatrician for your child.
What Hospitals Are You Affiliated With?
Most doctors are affiliated with one or more hospitals, which they have privileges at. When their patients require hospitalization, these are the hospitals they're able to send patients to. In other words, doctors aren't able to get patients admitted to hospitals that they have no relationship with.
How many hospitals a pediatrician is affiliated isn't as important as what hospitals they are. At least one of the hospitals that a pediatrician lists should be:
- highly rated for children's care
- easy to get to from your home
- in your child's health insurance network
A hospital that meets all of these criteria will be the right place to take your child if they ever have a medical emergency, and a pediatrician who's affiliated with the hospital will be able to get your child in.
Where is Your Office Located?
Just as you'll want to find a pediatrician who can admit your child to a nearby hospital when it's medically necessary to do so, it's also important to find a provider whose office is conveniently located. Seeing a doctor who has a practice close to your home or place of work will decrease how much time you spend driving to and from their office.
You'll likely go to the pediatrician's office several times just within your child's first year, and even an office that's a few minutes closer to your home can save you a lot of time.
What Age Children Do You See?
Most pediatricians see children of all ages, but some may limit their practice to only a specific range of years. Finding a pediatrician who sees children of all ages will provide your child with a higher quality of care because the same doctor can take care of your child until they reach adulthood.
It's also more convenient to choose a pediatrician who sees children of all ages. You won't have to find a new doctor for your child when they reach a certain age, and you can bring any other children you have to the same pediatrician.
Are You Certified by the American Board of Pediatrics?
The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) is a nationally recognized organization that certifies pediatricians. To be certified by the board, pediatricians must:
- graduate from an accredited or recognized medical school
- complete a residency in pediatrics
- have a valid and unrestricted license to practice medicine
- pass a rigorous exam that covers health care for infants, children and adolescents
Asking whether a pediatrician is board certified by the ABP is an easy way to find out whether they've successfully completed all of these steps and demonstrated that they're highly qualified to provide healthcare to kids.
Does Your Office Have Separate Sick and Well Waiting Rooms?
Separate sick and well waiting rooms help keep healthy kids who come to a pediatrician for a regular check-up apart from kids who are ill with contagious diseases. Thus, they reduce the risk of one child at a pediatrician's office getting another child sick.
Many pediatricians offices today have separate sick and well waiting rooms, but a few may not. Confirm that the pediatrician you choose has separate waiting rooms in their office, and ask them where the entrance for each is -- you don't want to accidentally bring your child to the wrong waiting room at their first appointment.
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