Choosing a Pediatrician, Part 1: Where to Begin

Whether you’re moving to a new area, expecting your first child, or your current doctor is retiring, it’s important to find a pediatrician that you’re comfortable with and confident in. After all, you will look to this person for guidance for years as your child grows, develops, and experiences life’s bumps.

“When you feel comfortable with your child’s doctor, it’s easier to share information – information that helps pediatricians provide the best care they can and helps parents understand each stage along the way,” says Matthew Toohey, M.D., a pediatrician at Brunswick-Baribeau Drive Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Maine.

So, what’s the best way to go about the process?

1| Make a list of potential doctors. Look to trusted resources, like the Find a Pediatrician tool from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This tool can help you zero in on board-certified pediatricians that are committed to keeping up on the latest information on children’s health.

To get an insider’s view, it’s helpful to ask family members and friends for recommendations. Ask all the questions you can, including: Are the waiting rooms and offices clean? Do you feel rushed during visits? Do you get clear explanations and feel comfortable asking questions?

2| Check with your health plan. When you have a list prepared, you’ll want to make sure the pediatricians on it are part of your health plan’s network so care will be covered. You can usually do this with a quick search on your plan’s website.

3| Consider location and make sure the doctor is accepting new patients. Convenience matters. That’s especially true for new parents, who will likely need to visit the pediatrician at least six times before baby’s first birthday. Think about whether closeness to home, work, or daycare is important, as well as access to parking and public transportation.

Our Martin’s Point Brunswick Baribeau Drive and Portland Health Care Centers both offer pediatric care. Brunswick Baribeau will open in a new, even more convenient location in October, and has recently welcomed several new pediatricians who are accepting new patients (learn more here). All other locations offer family medicine, which includes care for newborns and up, making it easier to find a doctor near you.

4| Dig a little deeper.
Check the credentials of the docs on your list. Some pediatricians undergo additional training and testing to get certified by The American Board of Pediatrics. Board-certification shows a pediatrician is interested in ongoing learning, communicating effectively, delivering competent care, as well as having strong medical knowledge.

All pediatricians at Martin’s Point are board-certified, and you can check for certification for other docs here.

5| What about the practice? Rapport with your pediatrician matters, but it’s also smart to see how the practice runs. What are the hours? Will you see different doctors or the same pediatrician? What happens if your child needs care after hours? Look for signs of commitment to customer service. When COVID-19 drove many more phone calls, for instance, Martin’s Point implemented several new strategies to make sure pediatric patients get the care they needed promptly. We also gather patient feedback with the help of an independent survey administrator, and report scores on our health provider’s bio pages.

With your list narrowed down, the next step is to schedule a meet-and-greet visit to make sure you’re comfortable with the doctor’s manner and care philosophy. At Martin’s Point, our commitment to partnership and communication means our pediatricians welcome the chance to meet with parents and expecting parents, so don’t hesitate to ask. (Look for more on this process in part 2 of this series).   

When should I start looking? If you’re expecting your first, start looking for a pediatrician at least three months before your baby is due. You might want to ask prospective pediatricians about their hospital affiliation, if it’s important to you to have your pediatrician complete the first checkup after your baby is born.