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How to choose a pediatrician for your child

Many parents ask how to choose a pediatrician. This is one of the many important decisions you need to make before having a baby. Dr. Kathryn Schaus, a Marshfield Children’s pediatrician, said there is much to consider as you search for your family doctor.

Dad and daughter looking at laptop trying to figure out how to choose a pediatrician
Start looking for your child’s pediatrician before he or she is born.

Dr. Schaus said you should start looking for pediatric care options during your pregnancy.

“A lot of times, people are so consumed with the pregnancy, they forget to look for a pediatrician,” Dr. Schaus said. “You want time to really think about it.”

Look for a pediatrician who is a good fit

“The first thing I would look for is a pediatrician who comes highly recommended,” Dr. Schaus said. Talk with neighbors, friends or your OB/GYN about who they recommend. This can provide you a list of names to choose from to find a pediatrician near you.

Don’t forget to consider the location of the provider as well. When you have a sick baby, you don’t want to travel long distances for care. Dr. Schaus said prenatal visits are available for parents who want to meet potential pediatricians.

“During a visit you can meet the person and see the exam rooms. Make sure you like the setting,” Dr. Schaus said. “Sometimes you know after meeting with a provider that you will click with them.”

Another consideration is if the family doctor has children, so they can talk you through your baby’s milestones.

“I think it gives them that extra understanding of what it’s like to be a parent,” Dr. Schaus said.

Evaluating potential pediatricians

Look for a board-certified pediatrician. To check, visit www.certificationmatters.org and search your provider in the site’s directory.

“Also make sure the pediatrician is in your insurance network,” Dr. Schaus said. Along with insurance coverage, evaluate the organization for which the pediatrician practices and how it fits with your child’s long-term care.

“If it’s a group practice, you want to know if there are people to cover for your pediatric care if they are gone,” Dr. Schaus said. “You want to know if there are specialists at the practice and what kind of hospital your baby would be admitted to if necessary.”

Though your child’s adolescent or teen years may seem far away, it is reassuring to know that pediatricians provide care to children into their early adult years.  Adolescence is a unique and critical time in development.  Your pediatrician is trained to address the unique needs of adolescents and help optimize healthy development during this transition to adulthood.  If needed, your pediatrician can refer to specialty care providers, and when the time comes, they can recommend an adult provider.  This connection between providers can give you peace of mind for the next phase of your child’s care.

Pediatric care options

If you are seeing a pediatrician and it doesn’t feel like a good fit, Dr. Schaus said you should feel free to try a new doctor.

People have the right to choose their pediatrician, and physicians don’t take it personally if you decide to switch,” Dr. Schaus said. “If you feel like another provider would be a better fit, just make the switch.”

To switch providers, simply talk to an appointment coordinator at your pediatrician’s office.

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