This article was previously published on Atrium Health's Daily Dose
As a first-time mom-to-be or a parent moving to a new area, searching for a pediatrician is likely at the top of your to-do list. Pediatrician, Reema Puri, MD, of Atrium Health Levine Children's Indian Trail Pediatrics, shares her tips for finding and selecting a pediatrician you and your family will feel comfortable talking to and relying on – no matter whether your child is a newborn or a teenager.
During your first pregnancy, finding a pediatrician you can connect with is a priority. "Every family has different needs, but fortunately, there's a great fit for everyone – from new parents to parents new to the area," says Reema Puri, MD, a pediatrician at Atrium Health Levine Children's Indian Trail Pediatrics.
Between the resources within Atrium Health's Oh Baby! A trimester-by-trimester guide to pregnancy and newborn care and the following advice from Dr. Puri, you're sure to find the right pediatrician for your family's particular situation.
1. Give yourself enough time.
The closer you get to childbirth, the less time you have to find a pediatrician, and you don't want to rush this important decision. Feel free to start earlier, but by your third trimester, your search should be in full swing.
If you recently moved or are just looking for a new pediatrician for older children or teenagers, you'll also want to take the time to ask them their preferences. For example, some kids are more comfortable with a doctor of their same gender, which you should take into account, according to Dr. Puri.
2. Count on reliable resources.
A natural place to start is by asking trusted family members, friends or work colleagues which pediatrician they'd recommend and why. Next, read more about Levine Children's pediatric services and search for a pediatrician near you. It's helpful to see which providers are accepting new patients and what credentials they hold, and you can also view the pediatrician's online biography and video, which introduces you to their background and bedside manner.
3. Think about convenience.
Your newborn's first two pediatric office visits occur about 48 hours and two weeks after hospital discharge. After that, check-ups continue at two, four, six, nine and 12 months, so it's best to choose a practice that's easy for you to get to from either home or work. We all know that babies get sick too, and you'll want to be near your doctor's office for those unexpected situations. And if your child needs care when your doctor's office is closed, Levine Children's also offers a variety of virtual care services with dedicated providers available 24/7, including urgent care video visits.
4. Visit the pediatrician.
"An in-person visit with a pediatrician is always helpful," says Dr. Puri. She suggests setting up an expectant parent tour with the practice or practices you are interested in. They give you the chance to see the potential pediatricians' offices, ask questions and meet the team before your baby is born. You can schedule a tour through MyAtriumHealth or by calling the practice. You can learn more about our practices and find one close to you by visiting our online directory.
5. Ask questions.
Here are some of the most important facts to consider when interviewing a pediatrician:
- Credentials: Puri recommends that families only see board certified pediatricians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants or family medicine providers because it means they've completed all the educational and board requirements for their field of study.
- Making appointments: Determine how easy it is to schedule your child's appointments. With all Atrium Health Levine Children's pediatricians, parents can book online, by phone and through MyAtriumHealth.
- Office hours: Find out what time the practice opens and closes each day, including weekends, and ask if a doctor is on call 24/7.
- Nurse triage: Most Atrium Health Levine Children's pediatric practices have a nurse available by phone 24/7 to triage parent calls. This is especially valuable to new parents because the nurse assesses your child's symptoms right then – even in the middle of the night – and suggests the best course of action.
- Doctor availability: You also need to know how accessible the pediatrician is. "Look for a pediatrician who'll be available to you through a variety of means, including by phone and virtual visits," says Dr. Puri. "My patients' parents can always make an appointment to talk with me or even send me a message via their child's MyAtriumHealth"
- Access to additional care: Finally, ask what onsite lab services are available at the practice and how easy it is for the pediatrician to connect you to specialists. All pediatric patients under the care of Atrium Health Levine Children's providers have access to Levine Children's Hospital, which is nationally ranked in multiple specialties by U.S. News and World Report, as well as a robust system of expert care, which includes several children's-only urgent cares and emergency departments that specialize solely in pediatric care. Dr. Puri also indicates that Atrium Health's e-referral system lets its pediatricians quickly reach many specialists to get treatment recommendations for patients.
Need to find a pediatrician? Find one near you and learn more about Levine Children's pediatric services.