7 Tips for Choosing a Pediatrician
March 24, 2022
If you’re expecting your first child, you probably have a long list of “to-dos.” In addition to setting up the crib, packing the hospital bag and organizing a fully-stocked changing table, you need to find a pediatrician.
It’s important to find a pediatrician you really like and can trust. You’ll be spending a lot of time at the doctor, especially during the first few months when your baby is getting regular checkups and immunizations. You’ll also want someone who your child can grow with, as most kids stick with their pediatrician well into their teenage years.
We tapped into Jennifer Sevilla, M.D., a pediatrician with Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health, and she shared seven things you should consider when searching for a pediatrician.
- Credentials. All pediatricians have to complete medical school. Some may graduate with an M.D. (doctor of medicine) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degree. The subtle difference is that D.O.s usually have a greater focus on holistic, or whole-body medicine while M.D.s tend to focus more on the use of traditional medicine. The choice is up to you - both are quality degrees that have strict requirements before they can begin practicing medicine.
- Availability. Depending on your work schedule, or other weekly demands, you’ll want to find a pediatric office or practice that has flexible hours. Some offices have limited evening or weekend hours available. If it’s difficult for you to get time off work during the weekday, make sure you find a pediatrician that has availability that works for you and your family.
- Location. Convenience is really important for many new parents who are trying to balance taking care of a child and work. Consider finding a pediatrician whose office is close to home or where your child will be cared for. If your child gets sick in the middle of the day and you need to bring them in for a quick visit, you’ll want to avoid a long car trip, especially when they’re not feeling well.
- Hospital affiliations. You’ll want to seek out the leading children’s hospital in the area to make sure your pediatrician has an affiliation. Hopefully you won’t need to take your child to the hospital, but if you do, you’ll want your pediatrician to be closely connected so they can refer your child to necessary specialists and be able to easily access records and communicate with other doctors as needed.
- Personality. Much like going on a first date, you want to find a pediatrician whose personality you click with. Is he/she easy to talk to? Do they make you feel comfortable? Do you like the way they interact with other children, or staff, in the office? Do they answer your questions clearly?
- Recommendations. Poll your family and friends in the area to see if they have a pediatrician who they would recommend. Ask about bedside manner, what the office environment is like, how quickly the doctor gets back to you if you call after hours. It’s helpful to hear what other people have experienced.
- Meet and Greet. It’s completely normal to want to meet a pediatrician in person before making a selection. Don’t be afraid to ask for a meet and greet where you can visit with the doctor and get a feel for the office environment and staff.
When you’re ready to make the call or stop into a pediatrician’s office to interview them, bring along this question checklist:
Download and print a PDF of this checklist here.
Next Steps and Resources
- Meet our Expert: Jennifer Sevilla, M.D.
- To make an appointment with Dr. Sevilla or a pediatrician near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.