Are you new to the metro or pregnant with baby number one? Choosing the right pediatrician for your family can be an overwhelming process. Where do you begin? This person will be helping you through healthcare decision making until your precious babes go to college. Here’s a helpful guide on what questions to ask to choose the best fit for the health of your littles.
The 5 Ps
What kind of provider are you looking for? Do you want a practice that Mom and Dad can go to as well? If you’re into one stop shopping then check out Family Practices. This type of practice cares for babies through adults managing most adult and childhood primary care illnesses including some OBGYN care. If you’re looking for a standard pediatrician, it’s important to consider someone board certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics and take a quick gander at their credentialing by searching The American Board of Medical Specialties web site.
Are you looking for a single doctor who you will see for every appointment or are you comfortable with a group of doctors? Most practices make it a priority for your child to see their primary provider for appointments. Some also employ advanced practice nurses (nurse practitioners) or physician’s assistants. These types of care givers are often called mid level providers and while they have not attended formal medical school to become doctors they hold advanced degrees and certifications for the population they serve and are excellent resources.
Privileges refers to which hospitals your doctor can see children if they are inpatient. This is especially relevant to pregnant moms, as you may want the pediatrician you choose to evaluate your child in the hospital right after birth. If you choose to give birth somewhere your doctor does not have privileges, then the pediatrician on call will see the baby until your first office appointment. Either choice is fine, but it is something to consider. For older children in the Oklahoma City Area, Integris Baptist Hospital and The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center offer inpatient services with staff pediatricians.
Within a practice, the core values are often demonstrated in their policies. Some such policies to consider your position on when shopping around are vaccines, breastfeeding support, sick visits, nurse call line, office hours, and insurance. Many practices have a strict policy in accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics, where the CDCs vaccine schedule must be followed unless medically prohibited to protect young and immunocompromised patients. Some other practices may have lactation consultants available for breastfeeding support. When your child is sick, how quickly can they be seen? The same day? Are both parents employed full time outside the home? Then maybe a practice with Saturday availability is for you.
When babies are newborns they are seen quite frequently and spending time loading and unloading all of that preciousness after a 30 minute drive might not be worth it. Also, picture a raging GI bug, proximity makes the probability of Lysol-ing your car a little less likely.
So there are the Five Ps but just because I like you I am going to give you one more: Personality. That’s how well you and the doctor communicate. Are you someone that wants to be directly told yes or no on a subject matter, or do you prefer to be talk out pros and cons? Always, always trust your gut feeling when meeting a doctor. If something does not feel right, speak up and don’t be afraid to change providers. The internet is full of every opinion under the sun for parenting, so finding a trustworthy professional to help you can be one of the best tools in your parenting arsenal.