Congratulations, you’re pregnant! In addition to setting up a nursery, baby-proofing your home, picking out the perfect name, getting ready for a baby shower or two and setting up your gift registry, oohing and aahing over cute baby clothes, find the right car seat and stroller – and just a few other million things on your to-do list – you don’t want to forget a very important task: selecting a pediatrician.
As your baby grows and develops, he or she will have specific health care needs and it is vital you find a pediatrician who can provide that care. Pediatricians are doctors who have completed specialized training to diagnose and treat childhood illnesses, from minor health problems to serious disease. Pediatricians can answer any and all questions, including those related to weight and nutrition, breastfeeding, developmental milestones, sleeping tips and more. Your baby’s pediatrician will be an important person in her or her life as well as a terrific resource for you whether you’re a first-time parent or a “seasoned veteran.”
But finding the right doctor to care for your newborn is an important decision that is best made before you give birth. You’ll have enough going on after your baby is born without having to worry about finding a doctor, so do the legwork now and feel confident you’ve found the best pediatrician for your baby. Follow these steps to help guide you in the process:
Where do I even start to look for a pediatrician?
One of the best ways to start compiling your list is by asking family and trusted friends. Whom would they recommend? Check with your obstetrician for their recommendations, and talk with other parents about their pediatrician. Your health insurance provider should also have a directory listing area pediatricians.
You can also visit cpcmg.net, the web site for Children’s Primary Care Medical Group (CPCMG). As the region’s only health network focused solely on children, their health and well-being, we have more than 115 pediatricians and certified pediatric nurse practitioners providing the best family-centered healthcare.
Location, location, location.
When pulling together your list of pediatricians, consider their office location. It’s very likely that you’ll be visiting the office several times in the first few months with your newborn so try to identify an office near your home or workplace. Check out traffic in the area – how long would it take to get there during rush hour? What’s the parking like – is there a parking lot or parking garage? Try to find a pediatrician whose office is easily accessible.
CPCMG has 21 offices located through San Diego and southern Riverside counties. From as far south as Chula Vista to Murrieta, there’s sure to be a CPCMG office in your neighborhood.
What are the office hours? What if my baby needs care after regular office hours?
Find out the regular office hours during the week, and confirm if there are evening and weekend appointments available. Ask if there are opportunities to receive medical advice from a doctor on call or a nurse advice line. What about pediatric urgent care services?
In addition to appointments during regular office hours, CPCMG offers after-hours and weekend appointments at select locations. The patient portal MyChart provides secure online access to your child’s medical records and allows you to manage appointments, check test results, communicate with your pediatrician and request prescription refills. The Nurse Care Connect program links you to pediatric registered nurses who are available Monday through Friday to provide advice and guidance to parents. After-hours telephone triage care is also available.
Set up a “meet and greet” with potential pediatricians.
Invest some time to get to know the pediatrician who will be an important part of your support network as you raise your baby. Schedule a “meet and greet” with two or three prospective pediatricians to provide yourself some options. Most pediatricians will be happy to visit with you and answer your questions, so feel free to ask about any topic that interests or concerns you.
The “meet and greet” also gives you the chance to check out the office. Is the office clean? Does the staff greet you in a friendly manner? Does the office appear to be kid-friendly? Also, check out the other pediatricians in the practice – you might see one of them if your assigned pediatrician isn’t available.
Parents-to-be can schedule complimentary prenatal visits to find the best CPCMG pediatrician for their family. To set up your visit, please call our Welcome Center at 858-502-1177.
*A quick note about insurance:
Before going in for a “meet and greet”, make sure your pediatrician practice of choice accepts your insurance. A quick call to the office or to your insurance plan can give you that information. Also, the hospital where you deliver your baby will want to know the name of your pediatrician so having that information confirmed and ready to share when your baby is born is important.
Look for credentials and experience.
Perhaps one of the easiest steps to finding the best pediatrician for your baby is confirming their credentials and experience:
• Confirm that your doctor attended an accredited medical school and residency program. This information can be found on their online profile on the practice web site or in the healthychildren.org pediatrician directory which is maintained by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
• Some pediatricians will have the letters “FAAP” after their name. This means they have passed challenging exams written by the American Board of Pediatrics and that they are up-to-date in the latest research and news in children’s health. In order to stay certified, pediatricians must complete ongoing education requirements.
• Consider the range of experience and how long the pediatrician has been in practice. Their amount of time in practice can also be confirmed online.
CPCMG maintains a current provider directory on their web site (cpcmg.net) including information about education, certifications and office locations. You can also learn a bit about a provider’s interests and personal life.
Last but not least: decide if you “click.”
A less concrete and more of a “go with your gut” task is deciding if you “click” with your prospective pediatrician. How did you feel when you spoke with them? Did he or she make you feel at ease? Were you satisfied with their answers to your questions? And while it may seem superficial, you may prefer a female pediatrician while others prefer a male doctor. Does it matter to you if your pediatrician has children or not? Sometimes parents like to hear what a pediatrician has done for their own kids.
The bottom line is that you have to be comfortable with your pediatrician. If you have any doubts after your “meet and greet”, then that’s not the doctor for you. Keep looking for the pediatrician that’s the best fit for your family.
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