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The New Patient


Of all the items on the To Do Lists by Trimester available in the cornucopia of literature surrounding pregnancy, the single task that really surprised me was:


Duh. Simple, but it just wasn’t on my radar. I was so focused on the paraphernalia the child would need that it didn’t occur to me that the baby would need a doctor before his stroller and crib and all the other fun baby things.

So how does one find a doctor to care for your little one – in many cases before you even leave the hospital? (Note, if the pediatrician you choose is not affiliated with the facility where you are delivering, they will provide one of their own staff to care for the baby until your follow-up visits which start in the first week of the baby’s life.)

  1. Start by asking your OBGYN for recommendations, mine provided a referral list of over 10 doctors that she had worked with in the past.
  2. Check your insurance providers website to confirm the doctors are “In Network”. Anyone who has ever dealt with an insurance company knows that the phrase “Out of Network” is akin to “Give us your first-born child, oh and you won’t been needing to make your mortgage payment this month will you?”
  3. I also had an interest where they went to medical school. You may not care about this, but I have a low tolerance for communicating with doctors so if they went to medical school outside of the country in the last 5 to 10 years they were axed. I’m sure that most of them were excellent communicators, but I was spoiled for choice with more than 10 options so it helped narrow the field.
  4. Verify the distance of their office to your house. I’m not a mother yet, but I’d imagine that when you are toting a sick child around, distance matters. Once again, I was spoiled for choice because I live in an urban setting with lots of doctors nearby.
  5. I still had six options so I removed any doctors who were not part of a group practice. Personally, if my child is ill, I don’t want to call the doctor to find out that he/she is on vacation for two weeks. I like the idea of a group practice where I can get in pretty much any time that works for me (for routine visits) and my sick child (for sick visits).
  6. Search for reviews (Yelp search). You may not have Yelp in your area, but if there is another similar forum where people can provide reviews, I think it’s a worthwhile effort. Most rational people (and I’m assuming you are if you’re reading this blog) can filter through the reviews to determine the ones most likely to reflect your opinion. I found several reviews really helpful to remove several doctors from the list who apparently (according to the vast majority of their reviewers) were not good at responding to questions from parents or who were gruff with the children.
  7. Interviews. If a doctor isn’t willing to meet with you or call you for a prenatal interview, then they are probably not a doctor you want to be dealing with for the next 18 years. I found an interview sheet for pediatricians which was helpful.
  8. Pick one. Did you have a good feeling about the doctor during the interview? Then you probably will trust them with your child. I didn’t have to do anything more to “sign up” with the doctor because my chosen pediatrician was affiliated my hospital. I just have to show up for the delivery and tell them who I’ve chosen. Easy!
7 Comments leave one →
  1. 08/17/2011 17:02

    great info. this post is perfect timing for me as i’m currently searching for a pediatrician also. thanks! brw – your “interview sheet” link contains one too many “http//”.

  2. 08/17/2011 17:08

    Great post! One thing I asked my pediatrician at the “prenatal consultation” was “Why would you dismiss a patient from the practice?”

    Her answer was simple, “refusing vaccinations.” She also went on that if you really didn’t trust her judgment or acted belligerently, you could be dismissed. She said for the most part, refusal of vaccinations was the number one reason for the practice to part ways with the patient (or she said if you decide to stop vaccinating). She said that any practice in Charlotte would likely say the same.

    It made me wonder, what physicians will see children whose parents refuse vaccinations? Or do people who refuse vaccinations typically not use modern medicine? That would make sense for people who refuse vaccinations because of religious beliefs, but I think more parents are refusing vaccinations but don’t reject modern medicine in general. Where do they go?

    • kate C. permalink
      08/17/2011 18:50

      To Chrissy et al.
      I’m not sure where parents who refuse vaccinations take their kids when they get sick, but I hope it’s not to my kids’ doctor!

      The reason that doctors kick families out if they refuse vaccinations isn’t because the doctor’s ego is hurt that you refused their recommendation, it’s because it is dangerous for other children that see that doctor!!

      Imagine the un-vaccinated kid gets sick (with what happens to be Measles) and goes in to see the doctor and has to wait in the waiting room (of course!). Measles is SO contagious that any other child (or adult) in that waiting room will be exposed to the disease. A small percentage of vaccinated people won’t be protected and will end up with the disease, AND because you can’t vaccinate babies under 12 months for measles, any young infants in the waiting room will almost certainly get measles. The death rate for measles is approx. 1 in 500 for everyone and it is extra-dangerous for babies… while that’s not as high as some dieases, because Measles is so contagious (the virus can survive in the environment for several hours – ie on toys in the doctor’s office!) one sick kid could expose a lot of babies, and since that’s the age where the disease is most dangerous… There are also other complications and some sources I’ve read have said up to half of infants who contract measles will need hospitialization.

      This is similar for many diseases. See this article about a case in MN a few years ago:

      So please: vaccinate your kids! There is NO scientific connection between vaccines and autism, despite what Jenny McC. might say. I’ve read the papers (including the one that started it all and was recently completely retracted and labeled fraud) and there really is no link.

      Vaccines are the single greatest advance for human health in the history of human-kind!

      • 08/18/2011 09:24

        Thanks for this input. I was thinking I’d write a whole post about vaccinations later when we’re getting them for the little guy and I’m more knowledgeable. This is a great start for that post!

  3. 08/17/2011 19:09

    Agree! But I’m still so curious about what docs will see them!

  4. Jamie koch permalink
    08/23/2011 19:28

    Great comment about vaccinations, Kate! I wish I could send you to talk to my misguided friend! She’s teaching Bradley classes (natural childbirth) and gets a lot of ‘information’ from random websites. She’s also strongly against vaccinations because she’s read that some are created from use of fetuses. Anyway, thanks for your message! 🙂

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