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Monday, September 10, 2012 - Hot to Choose the Right Pediatrician for You - Before Your baby's Arrival

How to choose the right pediatrician for you  ─  before your baby’s arrival
By Joseph Dorfman, M.D.

            Preparing for the arrival of your first child is both thrilling and life-changing. And with those changes comes the need for some pre-baby planning. While waiting for the arrival of a new baby, many new parents tend to focus on decorating the nursery and purchasing all the necessities their baby will need. Too often, new parents wait until the last minute, if at all, to find the right pediatrician to suit their family’s healthcare needs. In fact, establishing a long-term partnership with a pediatrician is one of the most important decisions you will make for your baby.

            As a practicing pediatrician for more than 10 years, I’d like to offer some tools to help you find the right doctor for your baby. If you implement these tips well in advance, you’ll have one less decision to make once the baby’s birth is near. I have outlined some guidelines to help make this process seamless and even enjoyable ─

Don’t rely on the Internet to find a doctor

Even if you don’t know many parents in your town, ask neighbors, colleagues, your family doctor and OB/GYN for recommendations. Parents are passionate about the pediatricians they like and will be happy to share their positive experiences with you. But you have to ask.

Does the pediatrician work with your medical insurance?

Increasingly, doctors have shortened the list of insurance carriers with whom they are affiliated. Make sure your carrier is on the list.

Confirm the doctor is board-certified by the AAP (American Association of Pediatrics)

Board certification means the doctor has passed a specialized exam which focuses exclusively on the pediatrics medical specialty.

Schedule an appointment to meet your top choices before baby arrives

This is a great tip which can foreshadow what’s really in store. How difficult is it to make an appointment? How quickly can they see you? Is the waiting area clean and child-friendly? Are the nurses harried and exhausted or good-natured and positive? Finally, do you like the doctor? Ask a few pointed questions about issues that are important to you. Make sure you are philosophically in synch.

Finally, if the pediatrician and practice you choose is not a fit, don't be afraid to make a change. The last thing you want is to be uncomfortable with your child’s caregiver and unable to trust his or her advice. Keep searching and eventually you will find a doctor who compliments your family’s needs, values and expectations.

CentraState’s dedicated pediatric staff includes 24/7 on-site pediatricians and pediatric nurses who combine clinical excellence with comfort, kindness and support. The First Impressions Maternity Center at CentraState offers award-winning, comprehensive care for mothers and babies. The hospital is holding a free Baby Fair for parents-to-be and those considering a pregnancy on Thursday, October 25, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at CentraState’s Star and Barry Tobias Ambulatory Campus, 901 W. Main Street, Freehold. Participants can meet CentraState’s board-certified obstetricians and pediatricians, and also sign up for prenatal consultations. To register for the fair, call 866-CENTRA7 (236-8727) or visit centrastate.com/babyfair.

Dr. Joseph Dorfman is a board-certified pediatrician on staff at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold. He can be reached at Princeton Nassau Pediatrics (princetonnassaupediatrics.com) in Monroe, (609) 409-5600; West Windsor, (609) 799-5335; or Princeton, (609) 924-5510.