John Irwin, MD, a pediatrician at MedStar Harbor Hospital, checks on a patient
Whether you're expecting your first child or are a parenting pro, feeling comfortable with your child's doctor is as important as baby-proofing your home and providing nutritious meals. Finding the right pediatrician takes some effort, but the payoff is worth it.
If you're expecting, start looking now. "The best time to search for a pediatrician is before you have a baby," advised MedStar Harbor Hospital pediatrician Naomi Shaikh, M.D. "Finding a physician is much easier to do before the baby arrives."
If you weren't able to find a pediatrician in advance - or aren't completely satisfied with your child's current doctor - don't worry. MedStar Harbor Hospital has many qualified pediatricians who welcome becoming a partner in your child's health care.
"You have the right to change pediatricians whenever you want," Dr. Shaikh stressed. "It's so important to find someone you trust and who works well with you and your children. Being able to talk openly with your pediatrician is key to receiving good care."
While your obstetrician may recommend pediatricians, also do your own research. Use MedStar Harbor Hospital's online physician referral service or call 410-350-2563. Dr. Shaikh also suggested talking to friends, family and neighbors - particularly those with young children - about the pediatricians they use and why.
Have a Face-to-Face
Call the offices of a few pediatricians who seem like a good fit. Verify that they accept your insurance. Then schedule a get-to-know-you visit to assess how comfortable you feel with the doctor. Ask questions such as:
- How easy is it to get an appointment? Are same-day appointments available when my child is sick?
- Will my child always see the same doctor? What happens when that doctor is unavailable?
- Who can I call if I have a concern late at night?
- Do you have hours on evenings and weekends?
Be certain to bring up specific concerns, such as finding out about the doctor's philosophy on using antibiotics and his or her approach to treating a health condition that runs in your family.
Trust Your Instincts
"Having children is a wonderful experience, but many new parents feel a lot of anxiety when taking care of a newborn for the first time. You need a doctor who listens to you and respects even your smallest concerns," Dr. Shaikh reminded. "MedStar Harbor Hospital has many pediatricians who can become essential parts of your support system."