Choosing a Pediatrician
by Angela Daidone

Becoming a parent is much more than the miracle of birth. Among many other facets, it is having the responsibility of caring for the health and well-being of the child. It is important to consider choosing a pediatrician before your child arrives to ensure the best care for your baby.

Pregnancy is actually the ideal time to decide on a pediatrician because your child can be cared for immediately after birth by someone you know and trust.

How should parents go about choosing the doctor that’s right for their baby?
First of all, ask your physician about referrals. He or she will be able to recommend a pediatrician – or several – that you might consider to care for your baby.

Dr. Robert Montemurro, obstetrician and gynecologist, recommends that you make an appointment for an "interview" with a prospective pediatrician. A face-to-face meeting is almost always a good indicator of what that doctor has to offer for you and your child. Dr. Montemurro has developed a series of simple, yet important questions for soon-to-be parents to ask that helps them make this important decision.

What credentials does the doctor hold? Has he/she been fully trained in pediatrics and is he/she accredited by reputable medical associations, i.e. the American Board of Pediatrics? Does the doctor have full staff privileges at the hospital or medical center of your choice? In other words, can your doctor care for your child’s illness or injury at the hospital(s) of your choice should the need arise?

Is the doctor’s office close to your home or workplace? Are office hours convenient for your needs? Is he/she affiliated with a children’s hospital in the event that your child should need special care at any time?

How is the doctor’s "bedside manner"? Even though you might be meeting the doctor in his/her office, demeanor – voice, professionalism, appearance – is something that usually will not change much when he/she is in the examining room with your child. Are you comfortable with how the doctor presents him/herself?

Can the pediatrician effectively communicate with you? Will he/she take the time to answer all your questions and address your concerns? If you need to call the office during off-hours, will your call be returned promptly?

Does the pediatrician’s office staff seem friendly and helpful? Soon-to-be moms and dads should ask family members and friends for referrals, as well. But don’t just take anyone’s word for it. Make a point to meet a doctor personally.

Equally important, says Dr. Montemurro, is inquiring about your obstetrician’s personal preference for his/her children. "Don’t be afraid to ask your ob/gyn where his/her kids go for routine or special care,” he remarks. Hopefully, your baby will grow with the same doctor. Most pediatricians can care for children from infancy through sixteen years of age, and if they are trained in adolescent medicine, up to age 21. It is essential that the doctor be the right one for you and your child.

Editorial provided by Angela Daidone, Communications Specialist, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey.