Finding the right pediatrician for your baby is an important and sometimes daunting task. Especially when your baby is a preemie and could face a lot of issues beyond what normal babies face. Depending on where you live there can be a lot of options and no clear cut way to choose someone that will be right for you and your family. When our son was born, we really had no idea who we were going to choose but thankfully we found someone that has been absolutely perfect for us. Here are some tips, suggestions, and questions to ask when you are finding a pediatrician for your preemie.
1. Recommendations. Finding a doctor that someone recommends is always a good first step. Ask your family and friends if they like their pediatrician. Ask them what they do and do not like about the doctor. Try and ask people who you trust and who have similar parenting approaches so that you get recommendations that might be a good fit for you.
2. Interview them. Finding a doctor is a little bit like going on a first date and doing a job interview at the same time. You need to know what their background is, if their personality is a good match for you, what their office policies are like, etc. A good doctor shouldn't mind being asked questions so make sure you do this first. Here are some good starter questions to ask:
- Are you comfortable/familiar with a high risk/premature/medically fragile infant? This is a key question. As a parent to a preemie, you want to make sure that your doctor is familiar and up-to-date on the specific issues that preemies face.
- Is he/she board certified? What other certifications does he/she have?
- At what local hospitals does the pediatrician have admitting privileges? This is an important question because it can help you determine what hospital to take your baby to if he/she gets sick. If at all possible, you want your doctor to be the one to admit and see your child if he/she is sick. If your doctor can only admit at a hospital that is far away from your house, you may want to consider someone else.
- How accessible is your doctor during the day? Does he/she take calls and/or messages from patients during the day? How long does it take for the doctor to call you back? Being able to ask a question or leave a message can help save the time and money of an office visit and give you peace of mind if something comes up.
- How do they work with specialists? Do they have certain specialists that they normally work with? How does that relationship work (sharing information, lab tests, etc.)
3) Check out their office. Beyond the pediatrician, you also want to find out about their office. Is the office in a good location that is convenient for you? Do their hours work for you and your schedule? How quickly can you get an appointment for your baby? Do they have an after hours clinic? Is your pediatrician part of a big practice? How many doctors and nurses are there? Are you able to see your primary doctor when you make an appointment? For a preemie, being able to see the same doctor is extremely important.
Insurance. Make sure that the doctor is in your heath plan network. This can save you a lot of headache and expense down the road.
Ultimately the decision is yours to make. Don't feel pressured to choose one doctor over another just because someone recommends them. Your baby's health and well being is extremely important so you need to make sure that the doctor you choose is going to be best for you and your baby.