When preparing for our twins we made a list of different things we need to prep and plan in the months leading up to their birth. One of the items that seemed increasingly overwhelming for me was choosing a pediatrician. After focusing in on exactly what we were looking for we were able to start narrowing down our search.
To start we asked friends and family for suggestions. We received some good recommendations and started researching each practice. Here are some steps and recommendations to help you during your own search to find the right doctor:
1) Explore their website in depth
You can tell a lot by the information on a doctors website. Some offices I checked out had little to no info while others had all the essentials. The one we ended up selecting had the answers to many of our questions readily available. I also recommend taking the time to read the doctor bios because most likely you will select one doctor to meet or schedule a tour with. I also enjoyed checking out resources and links that the offices had listed. This was a great gauge on whether their style resonated with us and what we were looking for.
2) Prepare a list of questions
Take some time to think about what qualities are really important to you in a doctor. Once I really focused on what I was looking for, I came up with some questions that would help me get a feel for the doctors we were meeting with. Here are some sample questions:
-What are your thoughts on vaccinations?
-How does scheduling work? How long does it typically take for a call back? (I was able to get a good feel for this when I called to schedule the tour)
-How far in advance do I need to schedule a well visit?
-What is the average wait time to see you from the time the appointment is scheduled? (Some places would have an average wait of 45 minute which was not ideal for me with two babies)
-Is there a better time to schedule that usually results in less of a wait?
-How do we reach you if my child gets sick after hours?
-How often will we see other doctors in the practice?
-Are you ever available on weekends or evenings?
-Are calls for routine/non-emergency questions encouraged?
-Is there an on call doctor? What hours?
-Are you affiliated with Rose hospital? (This is the hospital where I was delivering and it is good to check if your doctor does rounds at the hospital you are at.)
-Does the office respond to email?
-Will you be available to discuss behavioral developments?
-Views on breastfeeding vs bottle feeding? Do you have a lactation specialist on staff?
-What parenting books or other resources do you recommend on baby or child care?
Since we were having twins I also asked:
-Do you have experience with twins?
-Is there a different fee structure for twins?
3) Ask your OBGYN
Your OBGYN most likely has heard of or worked with tons of pediatricians in your area. My doctors office had an info sheet of several practices in the different parts of Denver with all necessary contact information. I asked my doctor for her top recommendations on that sheet. She recommended the doctor we ended up selecting.
4) Setup a tour
When you call to setup a tour you will get a feel for how their office operates. Some offices let you setup individual appointments with the doctor of your choice. If you’re not sure which one to pick, ask the receptionist some questions and about the doctors schedules. Some doctors only work certain days so this helped me narrow it down. Some offices setup group visits where 4-5 couples would meet with one doctor for a tour and to answer everyone’s questions. The benefit of this was that other parents had questions I hadn’t even thought of and the group dynamic allowed for much more dialogue than the individual sessions.
5) Visit at least 3 offices
I would highly recommend visiting at least 3 different pediatrician offices to give yourself a good range for comparison. The first office we met with was actually the office I went to as a child. It was funny because 90% of it was the same from when I was a kid and the doctors were all on the edge of retirement (aka old and tired). The doctor we met with was a bit grouchy and slightly annoyed by the questions we asked. It was also impossible to get someone on the phone and call backs took about 24-48 hours. Being the type A personality I am this didn’t jive with me. Jonathan and I wanted to find a place that we could stick with for a long time and we decided it wasn’t the right fit. **One side note: be sure to check out the parking at the offices you visit. This first office was in the city and had very limited parking or street parking in a busy neighborhood. Not ideal when it comes to unloading two babies, a stroller, etc. ** The second office we visited was recommended by a friend and the doctor was very nice. There was plenty of parking and I liked what I saw during the office tour. This office was close to our house but there was still something about it that we weren’t 100% sold on. We decided to check out one more office that I had a few people say was great. I was instantly impressed by their receptionist, the ease of scheduling the visit, their quick responses and that 75% of my questions could be answered by the information on their website. The doctor we met with had twins himself which gave us a sense of ease to find someone that related to having two babies. There was no doubt in either of our minds when we left the tour that this was the office for us.
7) Trust your gut
You should feel complete confidence in your choice so if it doesn’t feel right don’t do it. Keep searching until you find the office who’s values are aligned with yours and you feel totally at peace with your decision. You want to feel total confidence when your doctor makes decisions that affect your child’s health, so you must feel total confidence in choosing the right pediatrician.
8) Unique situations
If you are facing any unique situations such as twins, down syndrome, etc it is so important to talk about these topics in detail with your doctor. It might sound like common sense or you may figure that all doctors are well versed in all areas… I can tell you from my experience that this is not the case and by asking the hard hitting questions up front we have found the perfect doctor to fit our needs.
Best of luck on your search!