Choosing your New Baby’s Doctor: 7 Questions to Ask

choose a pediatrician

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“Parenthood is a long and wonderful journey and having a medical professional who is caring and understanding from the beginning is an important part of this experience,” says Edisa Padder, M.D., a pediatrician on staff at HCGH. “Every parent should feel their pediatrician cares about their child as if they are their own. Your pediatrician’s office should be your medical home, where all your child’s medical needs are met.”

One way to get started finding a pediatrician is to ask for referrals from family and friends. Your next step should be visiting the pediatrician’s office and meeting with the doctor, even before your baby is born. “A few issues to consider when choosing a pediatrician are the willingness of the pediatrician to listen and hear your concerns about your child, whether a simple question or complex medical issue,” explains Dr. Padder. “If you have a trusting relationship with your pediatrician, even a difficult situation becomes more manageable.”

Understand whether your pediatrician works full- or part-time and who you talk to or see after hours. “You want to talk to a physician who knows your family so he/she can give you proper guidance and advice,” explains Dr. Padder. “When your child gets sick after office hours, you should call your pediatrician’s answering service for guidance — if you know it is truly an emergency, go to the emergency room. If you are not sure whether your concern requires an urgent evaluation, please contact your pediatrician on call immediately. Additionally, you want to know how easy it is to get an appointment if your child is sick or for a well-child visit.”

Choose a doctor who shares your parenting philosophy and style and sees eye-to-eye with you on issues such as feeding, antibiotics, colic and sleep problems. Decide whether you want a solo practitioner or group practice and check the pediatrician’s training and credentials. “Know your initials,” says Dr. Padder. An M.D. attended medical school, did three years of residency and passed American Board of Pediatrics examinations. FAAP after a doctor’s name signifies a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Also trained to work with children are medical doctors who are family practitioners, nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician’s assistants (PAs).

In addition to family and friends, other sources for finding a pediatrician include the Howard County General Hospital Find A Doctor, your insurance’s website and the American Academy of Pediatrics .

Visiting the Office
When visiting potential pediatrician offices, ask questions:

  1. Is the doctor in a group practice?
  2. Does another physician cover for the doctor at times?
  3. Is there a nurse in the office who can answer routine questions?
  4. Who handles phone calls when the office is closed?
  5. Is your insurance accepted?
  6. What is the office policy on taking and returning phone calls?
  7. A question to ask yourself: Are the physician and office staff courteous? Do they show compassion and patience or did you feel rushed?
Edisa Padder, M.D., is a pediatrician with Padder Health Services in Columbia. Call for an appointment, 301-560-4747