October 2, 2015

Choosing a pediatrician

by Choosing a Pediatrician

Choosing a pediatrician before you give birth is important. Here are the topics you need to cover during your search.


Picking a name, planning a nursery and choosing a pediatrician — some of the to-do’s during pregnancy are more fun than others. But picking a pediatrician is incredibly important, and most parents begin their search in the second trimester of pregnancy.

One of the first steps in your search will be calling your health insurance company for a list of doctors covered under your plan. Often, insurance companies or hospitals, such as the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, have information about where the doctors have been trained and how long they’ve been in practice. After reviewing your options, request an interview with the doctors you like best. This is a great first step in choosing a pediatrician.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reviewing the following topics during your first meeting with a pediatrician candidate:

  • What are the doctor’s hospital affiliations? If it becomes necessary, where would your child be admitted?
  • Is the pediatrician’s office conveniently located?
  • Are the office’s hours convenient? (Working parent may need evening or weekend hours.)
  • What is the doctor’s policy on taking and returning phone calls? Is there a nurse in the office who can answer routine questions?
  • Is the doctor in a group practice? Does another physician cover for the doctor ? During which visits, if any, will your child be seen by a nurse practitioner? Who handles phone calls when the office is closed or during vacations?
  • If you need a lactation consultant to help you with breastfeeding, can the pediatrician set up that visit for you?
  • Do you sense a genuine interest by the doctor in the problems of your child, including particular health disorders he or she may have?
  • Are the doctor and office staff amicable and courteous? Do they demonstrate compassion and patience? Or do you feel rushed in the office, as though the doctor is eager to move on to the next patient?
  • How are visits for acute illnesses handled? Can you make an appointment on short notice if your child has a sore throat or an infection, for example?
  • Does the waiting area have separate spaces for sick and well children?
  • Does the doctor listen and speak clearly, using layman’s language (not medical jargon) to explain illnesses and treatments. Does the doctor make an effort to ensure your questions are answered?
  • What are the doctor’s fees for sick visits, routine examinations and immunizations? What is the office policy regarding insurance forms?
  • In what managed-care programs does the doctor participate?
  • If your child should ever develop a complex illness that needs the care of specialists, will your pediatrician coordinate care among all the doctors providing treatment?



Learn more about pediatricians available at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt by visiting its website or by calling (615) 936-2555.


7 thoughts on “Choosing a pediatrician”

  1. Maggie Allen says:

    These are some really good questions to ask you potential pediatrician! I think that my favorite one is probably the one about office hours. When you need your pediatrician the most, it is usually during inconvenient hours. It’s always good to know your doctor’s emergency hours(if they have them) so that you can make a good plan in case any accidents happen.

    1. jresquival says:

      Maggie, that’s a good point to consider hospital hours. You wouldn’t want to wait for care if your newborn was sick. I’ll have to start doing this kind of research- my daughter is on the way.

  2. Skylar Williams says:

    Looking into my insurance to find out which doctor’s they cover is a good tip. it would be tragic if I finally found someone and he wasn’t covered. I need to find a new pediatrician because we recently moved.

  3. Gregory Willard says:

    Thank you for all this great information about pediatricians. My sister is trying to find the right person to take her daughter to, and we were curious what to ask. I really like that you say to look for someone that uses layman’s language, because doctor speak is hard to understand.

  4. Dennis Sanchez says:

    Thanks for the terrific advice. I always want my daughter to get the best health care so I decided to look online for some tips finding a good pediatrician. You wrote that you should work with a doctor who has a genuine interest in the problems of your child, including particular health disorders they may have. My daughter has asthma, so I’ll definitely look for a pediatrician with experience doing that, and who comes across as very genuine.

  5. Ridley Fitzgerald says:

    Finding a good pediatrician is number one on my priority list right now. We are expecting our first child this month, and I want to have a good doctor waiting for her. I like how you said to pay attention to the doctors and staff at the office, and see if they are kind and caring. That is what I want.

  6. Frank Delaware says:

    My wife and I just moved to a new area, and we were curious about how you would choose the right person to check up on our kids. I really like that you say to find out if their office is conveniently located. It would be nice to know that you won’t have to go far to get them the care they need.

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