Picking A Pediatrician
Now that you're in your last trimester with only a few weeks to spare, you should choose a medical caregiver for your baby-to-be (unless you go to a family physician who can provide care for your baby). If this is your first baby, you need to understand the importance of this decision. A good pediatrician is more than a person to call when your baby has a fever. It is someone who will chart your child's development, address your concerns, and answer your questions about your child's health. And it is someone you will see regularly for sick visits and for well checkups.
The best place to begin looking for a pediatrician is with your family physician, obstetrician, family, friends, and colleagues. Ask them for recommendations and start gathering a list of names. After you collect a few numbers, write up some questions and call to set up interviews. When you interview a physician, you should take into account:
- Professional qualifications and reputation (the American Academy of Pediatrics - AAP -- will provide you with a list of board-certified pediatricians if you ask for it).
- Health care viewpoints on various issues such as proactive/preventive medicine and nutrition.
- Office hours (weekend appointments, evenings, emergencies).
- Doctor cross-coverage (who are the other doctors covering when your doctor is unavailable?)
- Location -- more than one office?
- Office environment and general feel and personalities of doctors and staff.
- After hours -- answering service/returned phone calls
- Triage system -- who answers your calls when you have a question? Do you speak with a nurse or directly with your doctor?
- Health coverage issues/ HMO/PPO -- how do you pay for visits?
Peter J. Chen, MD, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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