Thursday, July 26, 2012

choosing a pediatrician


I'll admit it, sometimes when creating posts for this series I struggle. I worry that I'm not an experienced enough mom to be writing with any sort of authority, so I've stuck mostly with sharing my own newbie-mom experiences.

This time, though, I feel like I can bring something to to the table. The topic is: choosing a pediatrician and hey-- I am one!

Sweet.



As you know, I am doing continued training in pediatric endocrinology, so other than in residency I have not practiced general pediatrics. But during training, I certainly learned the ins and outs of the outpatient clinic and have developed clear ideas of what I'd want in a practice once it was my turn! And when that time finally came . . . I chose to go back to where I trained. Here are the factors that I considered in making the decision.

Physician experience. This is terribly hypocritical, but . . . I didn't want to take Annabel to a resident. That said, I ended up choosing one of my former colleagues (she was the chief just one year ahead of me!) who had only been practicing for a year. I don't necessarily think that older = better when it comes to pediatric care-- younger physicians may actually be more paranoid which can actually be a GOOD thing when it comes to picking up little things in babies. and I knew that if there was ever some crazy diagnostic dilemma and my pediatrician felt she was over her head, she'd have a million other doctors to ask for help (and she would!).

I also chose a pediatrician who was a recent new mom herself, as I thought that this would make her more in tune with the various trends in parenting.

 Hours/accessibility. What if your baby gets sick . . . on a Sunday? If the practice has weekend hours, it can be a really great time [and $] saver if the only other option would be an urgent care (and not all practitioners at these places are very comfortable with children, especially young ones) or an ER. Unfortunately, I had to compromise on this point, but at least my practice is open on Saturday.

 Access to specialists/associated hospital. I'm very comforted knowing that if A. needed to see a specialist, it would be easy to get great recommendations on those who practice for almost every flavor of pediatrics at our big hospital. I also feel very confident in the care that A. would receive should she ever need admission to our big academic center. It's important to find out where the pediatricians at a given group admit to (small local hospital without a peds department or big center? I'd argue that the latter is preferable.).

Some practices also have specialists built into the practice -- like an on-site dietician, lactation consultant, or pharmacist. These extras can really be convenient if you ever need to do a two-in-one visit, plus it's likely that the providers will communicate with one another.

 Rapport. Since I already knew my pediatrician, I didn't have to do any sort of interview, but if you don't have MD connections, I highly recommend meeting potential candidates before you commit. Most practices offer a free 'consultation' visit that will allow you to do just that. You really want someone you will be comfortable with -- able to ask 'dumb' questions (NO question is dumb!) and even vent when things get tough.

 Location. I know, this doesn't seem like something that should be a big deal when it comes to the health of your child, right? But there are a whole slew of visits during the first year, and making a long trek to an out-of-the-way clinic would have been inconvenient.

This laundry list was pretty much it for me! If you have anything else that helped you make your decision, please share in the comments!

Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app!
Find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.