Finding a Pediatrician

Choosing a pediatrician is a critical part of ensuring your child’s good health through adolescence into the young adult years. Pregnancy and parenthood is an exciting and fulfilling time in one’s life, but also a time that involves critical decision making. Finding a pediatrician can be a challenging process if you are a new parent but is one of the most important choices to make when anticipating a new baby.

Before we begin, it is helpful to understand what a pediatrician does. In short, a pediatrician helps parents raise healthy children. This includes ensuring your child’s healthy physical and mental growth and development, prescribing medication during illness, answering your questions, and updating immunizations, helping you access specialists and addressing chronic health problems, among other responsibilities. Understanding how to begin the search for a pediatrician, finding which questions to ask and navigating through all the information available on the internet can be confusing! We understand the importance of this decision and have compiled information from various key sources to make this process simple and streamlined for you. 

We encourage you to use our map of Pediatric Providers in Rhode Island, as an additional resource to help you find a best-fit provider for your child.

GO TO MAP

It is a good idea to find a pediatrician while you are still pregnant. Beginning your search when you are between 28-34 weeks pregnant allows for some time to assess your options, get feedback and reach a conclusion on the pediatrician and practice that is the best fit. It also takes into account the fact that you may deliver earlier than your due date. Studies have shown that committing to a pediatrician early is not only beneficial to you, but also beneficial for the health of your baby. Babies who visit the same pediatrician more than once in their first six months have been shown to be more likely to be on schedule with important health screenings.  

The Hassenfeld Institute provides a comprehensive list and map of pediatric practitioners in Rhode Island.  The map will provide names of providers at the practice, information on the location and details about the practices. Examples of these details include; insurance type they accept, whether they are accepting new patients, languages spoken or translation services etc. We encourage you to use this detailed and easy-to-navigate resource to help select the right pediatrician for you!

You can find our map here: map of pediatric providers 

Another way to find pediatricians is by asking for referrals from your current doctor or your obstetrician/midwife. Alternatively, you can ask trusted family or friends for recommendations. If you would like to do some research on your own, you can visit the Find a Pediatrician tool on the American Academy of Pediatrics website and browse through their list of board-certified pediatricians. You can also approach a number of institutions for names of doctors in your area. Some examples of these are local medical societies, community or teaching hospitals and major medical centers.

BOARD CERTIFIED PEDIATRICIANS

 

Once you have narrowed down a list of names, it would be a good idea to call each practice to confirm the doctor’s credentials and gain an understanding of office procedures. A doctor’s credentials can include certain key designations that are attached to their name. Firstly, the doctor must have a state license that allows them to practice, as well as have completed medical school and three years of residency. Secondly, it is better if the pediatrician is board-certified. Board-certified pediatricians have completed a range of rigorous exams, which are retaken periodically. Lastly, it is beneficial if a pediatrician is a member of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and has a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP) listing, that indicates he/she is a board-certified AAP member. AAP’s list of board-certified physicians is a great resource that can be used to check a pediatrician’s credentials.  These have been outlined in Step 2.  After these questions, if you are happy with the practice, you may be able to schedule an interview with the individual doctor, who can answer further in-depth questions. Talking with the doctor will help you make a fully informed decision as to whether they are the right fit for your child. 

Questions to ask the office:

  • Are the office hours compatible with your work schedule? Do they offer early morning/evening/weekend hours?
  • Who takes phone calls and who can you contact for routine questions?
  • Who takes phone calls when the office is closed?
  • Does another doctor cover for your pediatrician in the event of his/her absence?
  • What are the fees charged for routine examinations or sick visits? Is the payment to be given at the time of the visit?
  • How quickly can an appointment be scheduled? Can last minute urgent/emergency appointments be made easily?
  • What insurance types are accepted? How are insurance forms processed?

Before you meet or talk with the doctor, it is important to prepare a list of questions. While these differ based on the medical history of your child and your personal preferences, we have outlined a few types of questions that might be helpful to you. These include specific questions to ask the pediatrician and questions to ask friends.

Questions to ask yourself:
  • Do you want someone who practices alone or a group practice?
  • Would you like a pediatrician who takes charge or one who encourages involvement in decision making?
  • Do you want a pediatrician of a particular gender or age?
  • Would you prefer if your pediatrician is a parent too?
Questions to ask pediatrician:
  • What is their potential to be available during an emergency?
  • Who can help your child when they are not available, with regard to appointments and calls?
  • Which hospital do they admit children to?
  • What managed care programs does the pediatrician participate in?
  • How are acute illnesses handled? 
  • How are complex illnesses handled? Will the pediatrician help arrange for specialists and help in coordinating care?
  • What are their philosophies on various issues, including breastfeeding, circumcision and weaning, for example?
Questions to ask friends who use this practice or to assess after first visit:
  • Does the pediatrician seem truly interested and attentive towards the specific needs of your child, that you discuss together?
  • Do the children get along with the pediatrician? Does the pediatrician interact with them or only you, the parent?
  • Do the staff and pediatrician answer your questions comprehensively?
  • Do the staff at the practice and the pediatrician seem kind and compassionate? Are your interactions hurried or rushed?
  • Are calls answered quickly? Are they returned in a timely manner?
  • Is the waiting area clean? Is there a long waiting time?
  • Are the appointments conducted in a rush?
  • Does the pediatrician appear to be up to date with current issues in pediatric medicine?

 

Once you have answered these questions, it would be helpful to sit back and reflect on your experience before reaching a final conclusion. These are some questions that you can keep in mind:

  • Which pediatrician seemed like the best fit with regards to interacting well with your child as well as yourself?
  • Which pediatrician’s personality and beliefs on parental philosophies matched best with yours?
  • Which pediatrician was most open to feedback, questions or concerns?
  • Which office was the most pleasant, with the shortest wait time?
  • Which practice had the simplest procedures with regard to billing, scheduling appointments and other matters of convenience?

We hope these steps will help you choose a pediatrician. This information has been compiled using the following resources, and we encourage you to visit them to learn more:

healthy children website

AAP PEDIATRIC HANDOUTS

AAP NEWS RELEASES

 

We encourage you to use our map of Pediatric Providers in Rhode Island, as an additional resource to help you find a best-fit provider for your child. Enable your location to identify practices near you. Click on the location pin to get an information bubble that gives you specific practice details such as address, providers and more. Click on “Find a Provider” button on the upper right corner, to customize your language and insurance preferences, and find out which practices are accepting new patients.

MAP OF PEDIATRIC PROVIDERS

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