Choosing a pediatrician for your baby is an important decision. For a first time parent, this very thought can be an overwhelming one. A little bit of legwork should help you find a doctor you like and can trust.
Pediatricians have special training in the health and illnesses of children from birth through age 21, and most are certified by the American Board of Pediatrics after passing a comprehensive examination covering all areas of health related to infants, children, and young adults.See A Pediatrician’s Training.
By your child’s middle school years, you have likely already found a pediatrician you are happy with. However, an occasion may arise where you need to find a new doctor—perhaps you have moved to a new city or your pediatrician has retired.
In circumstances like these, try to obtain a referral from your present pediatrician. He or she may know a colleague in the city where you are moving, or one who is taking over the retiree’s practice. Friends and family members might also recommend one or more pediatricians for you to consider.
How to Find the Names of Qualified Pediatricians
- The American Academy of Pediatrics and HealthyChildren.org can supply you with names of board-certified pediatricians in your community through our Find a Pediatrician tool.
- Note: Only Fellows of the American Academy of Pediatrics or “FAAPs” are listed in our Find a Pediatrician tool. Only board-certified pediatricians can add the designation “FAAP” after their names, which means they have reached the highest status of membership in this professional organization.
- Most local/county medical societies provide referral services to pediatricians in their area who are taking new patients.
- If you are located near a major medical center, community hospital, or teaching hospital, contact its department of pediatrics for the names of doctors in your area.
With a list of doctors in hand, call the office of each. Explain that you are looking for a pediatrician for your child, and inquire about the doctor’s background and training, as well as general office procedures. If you are impressed with what you hear, arrange for an interview during which you can meet the doctor and ask some additional questions. It may be more convenient to do this interview by telephone.
Here are some key questions to ask and things to consider during this first meeting:
- What medical school did the pediatrician attend, and where did he or she undergo postgraduate and residency training? (Medical directories in many public libraries—such as the Directory of Medical Specialists and the American Medical Directory—can also help answer these questions.)
- What are the doctor’s present hospital appointments? If it becomes necessary for your child to be hospitalized, where would he or she be admitted?
- Is the pediatrician’s office conveniently located? Is it easily accessible by car or public transportation?
- Are the office hours convenient for your own schedule? If you are a working parent, you may desire 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? See When to Call Your Pediatrician.
- Is the doctor in a group practice with other physicians? Does another physician cover for the doctor at times? Who handles phone calls when the office is closed or during vacations?