When you have a baby, you need a pediatrician. That much I knew. But then it was suggested that we needed to find a pediatrician before the baby was born. Why? Because a pediatrician examines the baby in the hospital when she is born and that might as well be her regular pediatrician instead of whoever’s on duty. Plus, babies need to be taken to the doctor every month and the first visit is at 2 weeks of age. So might as well select a pediatrician now than scramble to find one immediately after her birth.
How to choose one? Looking at the list of pediatricians in the area, it seemed like there are too many. I counted more than 50 within 5 miles of our zip code. An interesting thing was that may be about 40% of them are Indians. We do live in an area which has a large South Asian population and the central Jersey center of desi (South Asian) activity, Iselin, is close by. However, South Asians seem more concentrated in pediatrics than the other fields we usually need (primary care physician, ophthalmologist, gynecologist, etc.)
We asked friends as well as our doctors for a recommendation. They recommended a few doctors, but one doctor’s name was common in most lists. So we went to see her. I had no idea what to ask the doctor, but our baby book recommends these questions:
- What are the office hours?
- What is the best time to call with routine questions?
- How soon after birth will the pediatrician see your baby?
- When will the baby’s next exams take place?
- When is the doctor available by phone? E-mail?
- What hospital does the doctor prefer to use?
- What happens if there is an emergency?
- Who “covers” the practice when your pediatrician is unavailable?
- How often will the pediatrician see your baby for checkups and immunizations?
- What are the costs of care?