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Finding a Pediatrician - A guide for expectant parents on how to begin the search for a pediatrician.How to choose a pediatrician

Becoming a first time parent is very exciting. It's a time filled with anticipation, but it can also create a bit of anxiety.

There's so much to do to get ready for your new arrival. Along with considering baby names and buying a crib, choosing a pediatrician should be on your to-do list, too.

Infants and children have very different needs from adults, both physical and emotional. Pediatricians are specially trained to prevent and manage the unique health problems of infants, children, teens, and young adults.

To become a pediatrician, a doctor must take special courses for three or more years after medical school. This is called a pediatric residency. To become board certified, a pediatrician must pass a written examination given by the American Board of Pediatrics. To keep current on changes in children's health care, pediatricians must recertify by taking examinations every seven years. They also must take a certain number of continuing medical education (CME) courses each year to be eligible for license renewal in the state in which they practice. These are good things to know as you begin your search. Taking these few extra steps will help you to choose a pediatrician that you and your child can develop a growing relationship with. It's like homework, in the end, you'll be much wiser.

When do you begin your search for a pediatrician?

When do you begin your search for a pediatrician?Your search for a doctor should begin well before your baby's due date. Babies often come early and you'll want to be sure you've found someone whose style and personality work with your own.

A good time to start your search is about 3 months before your baby's expected. If you're in a managed health care plan, your choice of participating doctors who provide primary care for children may be limited, so be sure to check the plan's online list because paper lists can quickly become outdated.

If you have questions about whether a doctor participates in your plan or if you're interested in a doctor who isn't on the list, call the health plan directly. Also call if your child has any special medical needs that would require an out-of-network doctor.

Once you know the limits of your health plan, you are ready to begin compiling a list of potential pediatric candidates to interview. A great place to start is by asking friends, family and coworkers what pediatrician their children see. Find out what they like about that particular doctor and if they've ever seen other doctors within the same practice. Your OB/GYN is also a great resource because they may have kids of their own and often they know doctors on a personal level.

You can also look for pediatricians right here on cookchildrens.org. Find pediatricians by name and/or location and read about their education and experience.

How to interview potential pediatricians

Your list of potential pediatricians is complete. The prenatal interviews are scheduled. But what do you do when you get to the pediatric candidate's office? What do you say? Asking the right questions can help you choose a pediatrician that you and your child will trust and feel comfortable with for many years to come.

The following is a list of interview questions to help you in your search for a pediatrician. We've even created a printable PDF so you can print these guidelines and take them with you to each interview. You may also find that the list brings up a few questions of your own. That's a good thing. Write those down as well and take them along with you. This should help you make a good, informed choice.

Interview questions for prenatal consultation

What to ask in the pediatrician waiting room.

Questions to ask yourself during the visit:

   
Questions to ask the pediatric office staff.

Questions for the office staff:

   
Questions to ask a potential pediatrician.

Questions for the pediatrician:

   
How do you interview a pediatrician?

Questions to ask yourself after the visit to help you make an evaluation:

Having a checklist of questions will help you organize your thoughts and be thorough during the interview. Some doctors offer group classes for expectant parents to learn about their office and discuss newborn care, while others offer one-on-one interviews. For a printable PDF of these questions, click here and take them with you for your interview.

Many insurance companies encourage these prenatal appointments or classes and will cover any cost involved; however, be sure to check with the doctor's office and your health plan first to avoid surprises.

Preparing for the unexpected

When do you begin your search for a pediatrician?.Speaking of surprises, it's always good to be ready for the unexpected. So another step to take while getting ready for the birth of a baby is to arm yourself with information in case your little one needs critical care.

Don't worry, most babies don't need this kind of advanced care, but it's good to have the information just in case. Should you discover that your baby may need critical care, talk to your OB/GYN or perinatologist to find out exactly what care or treatments the baby will need. Then ask them which neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) has the best equipment and staff to provide that care. Not all NICUs are alike. Do some research to learn about the differences between each one and ask your OB/GYN or pediatrician which one they would recommend. You can also ask friends and family for suggestions because sometimes they have had a child in a NICU and are a great source for information. The choice of which NICU your baby goes to is up to you.

Cook Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the first and only all-single room NICU in Tarrant County, featuring state-of-the art, specialized equipment and monitoring in each room. This allows our NICU staff to provide the highest level of care for premature babies or critically ill infants. Infants and newborns in our NICU get 24-hour care from neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners along with doctors and other health care professionals from Pulmonology, Neurology, Pediatric Surgery, Endocrinology, Infectious Disease and Cardiology.

Our NICU offers more than 100 single rooms. We even have special rooms for twins, triplets, and quadruplets, so in the case of a multiple birth, your babies don't have to be separated during your stay. And, our in-room accommodations for parents mean that you are able to stay right at your baby's side at all times, in a comfortable and warm setting.

The Cook Children's NICU is supported by Cook Children's Teddy Bear Transport, a 21 person team that is specially trained to transport children and critically ill babies. This team is certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services (CAMTS). Our transport vehicles include a King Air B200 critical care transport airplane, an American Eurocopter 145 helicopter and four ambulances. So whether your baby needs to be transported from across the street or across the country, you can rest assured that your baby is in best of hands.

To find a Cook Children's doctor, click here. To browse all of our pediatrician office locations, click here.

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