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Choosing the Right Pediatrician in New York

Choosing the Right Pediatrician in New York

Finding the right doctor for your kids can be tricky, but it’s worth a careful search.


One of the most important relationships parents have may be the one they develop with their children’s doctors. It’s crucial for parents to trust their pediatrician as they navigate their child’s developmental stages, possible illnesses, and medical concerns. Now, during the pandemic, it’s especially important that parents value their kids’ medical evaluations. So how do you ensure you find the right fit?

Conduct a thorough pediatrician search.

Many parents begin looking for a doctor before their child is born. The American Pregnancy Association urges parents to ask relatives, friends, and prenatal care providers for referrals. You can also research providers in your area by checking your insurance company’s website. (If insurance or cost is an issue contact your local Department of Health to locate pediatricians or clinics that provide care on a sliding scale.)

Another way to learn more about providers? Read reviews on websites such as Zocdoc.com and Ratemds.com, but it’s important to remember that opinions can be very subjective.

Your research should include the provider's medical training and knowledge, her bedside manner, her reputation in the community, any facilities she is associated with, and her medical perspectives on different issues (like vaccines, medication, breast-feeding).

Look for providers with the FAAP credentials after their name—it means they’re board-certified and belong to the American Academy of Pediatrics. (This can be verified by visiting the American Board of Pediatrics’ website, abp.org.)

Look beyond the resume.

The best way to narrow the field is to meet the pediatrician. Set up a visit, ask questions, and get a sense of how the office runs. Jennifer McCarthy, an attorney and mother of two boys in New Jersey, says when looking for a pediatrician, her main focus was finding someone who “would be open to being a partner in my children’s care. When my older son was born, we met a doctor who talked for twenty minutes straight without ever asking a single question about my child—that is exactly what I didn’t want.”



Emily Skeen, a pediatric nurse in New York City, says it’s also important to examine the doctor’s practice. “Do they return phone calls? Can you make an appointment easily? Is there a medical professional available after hours?” Some other questions to ask: How long is the wait? Will your child see the same pediatrician for all visits? And because COVID-19 is spreading: Is there a separate waiting area for sick children?

Don’t let COVID-19 deter a doctor visit.

It might seem easier and safer to put off a pediatrician visit right now, but despite current coronavirus concerns, parents should not hesitate to bring their young ones to a doctor’s office—especially for annual checkups and immunizations, according to Kevin A. Slavin, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health.

Another reason not to miss a doctor’s visit this year: the flu shot, if you’re opting to get your children vaccinated. Plus, because flu and COVID-19 symptoms are so similar, a visit might be the only way to diagnose your child.

In addition to taking all precautions, including wearing masks and sanitizing hands, make sure you ask the office what safety procedures are in place. For example, can you wait outside or in the car before your appointment? Does the doctor offer telehealth services for times when in-person visits aren’t required?

What if the pediatrician ends up not being a good fit?

Caregivers have the right to switch providers at any point if they feel uncomfortable. If there is a specific issue that can be addressed, try giving some feedback first and see if things improve. If you feel dismissed or uneasy, then find another pediatrician.

Even after a provider is selected, keep an eye on how the doctor interacts with you and your children. Is he patient with the kids? Do you feel rushed through visits? If your children express feeling uncomfortable or not wanting to see a certain doctor, look into finding someone your kids feel more at ease with.

The rigorous process of finding the ideal pediatrician is worth it. The right doctor can be a lifelong asset to you and your kids throughout their young lives.

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