There’s a lot to plan for when expecting your first child, including picking a pediatrician. Here, Duke Health pediatricians, Joanne Wagner, MD, at Growing Child Pediatrics Wake Forest, and Arian S. Nasab, MD, at Duke Primary Care Pediatrics Holly Springs, offer the information you need to choose a pediatrician for your newborn.
When to Choose Your Child’s Pediatrician
Drs. Nasab and Wagner agree that the best time to start looking for a pediatrician is before your baby is born. While still in the hospital, newborn babies are seen by the hospital’s pediatrician. However, they’re usually seen by your pediatrician within a few days after leaving the hospital, Dr. Nasab explained. Ideally, you’ll have your baby's first appointment scheduled before you leave the hospital.
Ask Your Family and Friends for Recommendations
Rather than start from scratch, ask family and friends who they trust with their child’s care and what their experience has been with their pediatrician. “Word of mouth or knowing people who see that provider and are happy with them is important,” said Dr. Wagner.
Consider Convenience, Insurance Coverage, and Availability
You’ll be visiting your pediatrician frequently, especially during the first year of your child’s life, so consider how your pediatrician will fit into your routine. Before they turn one, your baby will have at least nine well-visit checkups that include vaccinations and track their growth and development. These visits don’t include sick visits that can happen without notice. Location and office hours are small details that can make a big difference. “You want the office to be in a convenient location for you, either close to your house, work, daycare, or school,” Dr. Wagner explained.
Office hours and availability are factors you want to consider, too. “For the most part, you can expect everyone to have normal office hours Monday through Friday, but some will have Saturday hours, some will have evening hours, and some will have more centralized nursing lines after hours,” said Dr. Nasab.
At Growing Child Pediatrics in Wake Forest and Duke Primary Care Pediatrics Holly Springs, you can speak with a nurse or pediatrician outside of regular business hours if you have questions or concerns that can’t wait until the office opens.
You’ll also want to make sure that the pediatrician accepts your insurance. Usually, insurance companies provide members with a list of in-network doctors, but you can also ask the clinic.
Check Their Credentials
Pediatricians are doctors who have special training in treating babies, children, adolescents, and young adults. Drs. Nasab and Wagner stress the importance of ensuring your child’s doctor is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and licensed in North Carolina.
Meet with Your Finalists
After you’ve narrowed down your options, set up a meeting with each pediatrician to ask questions, get a feel for their bedside manner, and get to know their personality. “Some doctors are more comprehensive and take a longer time while others like to be more efficient,” said Dr. Nasab.
Check Out the Practice
Consider the overall environment, services, and staff you’ll meet when you visit. “I think it's important to talk about selecting a practice as a whole,” said Dr. Nasab. “It’s not just the pediatrician -- there’s front desk staff, nursing staff, and clinical staff that will be checking you in, taking weights, administering vaccines, and setting next appointments.”
Hope for the Best, Prepare for Every Possibility
When it comes to selecting a practice, Dr. Wagner said there are benefits to choosing a pediatrician that’s part of a larger medical system like Duke Health. “There are advantages to seeing pediatricians who are associated with larger institutions, such as easier access to specialists,” she said. “Hopefully, you don't need a specialist for your child, but if you do, it's fortunate to be so close to Duke.”
Another advantage is more cohesive care, said Dr. Nasab. If your child does see a specialist or is admitted to the hospital at Duke, your pediatrician is automatically notified and updated. “We're aware of everything that's happening for our patients and I think that we're better for it,” he said.