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Monday, January 29, 2007

Doctor, Doctor! An Important Decision

Several months before the birth of my son, I started searching for a pediatrician. I'd heard it was best to interview a doctor first, but it seemed everywhere I called, I was told the doctors didn't do interviews. I mistakenly thought doctors didn't do that around here at all, and so I depended on the limited information provided on the website of my insurance carrier. A few days after bringing my son home from the hospital, I took him to his new pediatrician with high hopes.

To my surprise, the doctor I was scheduled to see was not the one I'd picked out online. I was told that doctor hadn't taken new patients in quite awhile, due to high demand. The doctor I did get, I knew nothing about. The office was busy, we waited a long time for the visit, and I had to park a long way from the office - not a good thing for someone who had a C-section only days before. Had I visited the office first, I could have discovered all of this before setting an appointment.

In desperation I asked my neighbor, a mother of four, who she took her children to. It was less than 1/2 a mile from my house, and what's more, the doctor allowed for interviews. My neighbor raved about the doctor. Long story short, that's where I take my son, and I couldn't be happier. My doctor is an incredible listener who has a sincere love of children.

It's hard to even think about finding a pediatrician when you're pregnant and overwhelmed with things like water retention and fetus development. But choosing a doctor before the baby is born can save a lot of hassle later. If a doctor's office won't let you schedule an interview, try somewhere else. Make a list of questions you'd like to ask, like rescheduling rules, after-hours availability, and philosophies on vaccines, breastfeeding, and antibiotics. Make sure you're comfortable asking questions and that the doctor has a desire to listen. Those are things that will make all the difference.

Remember, the pediatrician you choose now is who you may need to turn to in an emergency. You'll need to feel comfortable as a new parent calling with what may seem like a silly or trivial question. And what's more, you'll want to have a doctor you can trust with the health of your child for years to come.

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