Finding a good paediatrician can be difficult for inexperienced parents-to-be, says Dr. Pamela Gallin, director of paediatric ophthalmology at the Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute and at the Babies and Children's Hospital of the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. Here are some suggestions from her book, The Savvy Mom's Guide to Medical Care:
Start researching paediatricians early in your pregnancy.
You don't want to conduct a detailed, in-depth search in the sleep-deprived, hectic days after your baby is born. Give yourself time to conduct a leisurely, thorough search.
Consider finding a good hospital as a first step.
A paediatrician affiliated with a leading hospital is likely to be competent (at the very least) and up to date on recent medical developments. In addition, he or she will be able to refer you to a wide network of talented specialists, and can be closely involved in your child's care if and when hospitalisation is necessary.
How to find a good hospital? Consider these factors: First, it must be one that accepts your medical aid. If possible, visit the hospital and enquire about their facilities. Also discuss the options with your doctor and people who have dealt with the hospital.
Once you've found a good hospital, you can start asking about paediatricians affiliated with it.
Check with friends and neighbours to find out if there's anyone they recommend. Other good sources of information include teachers at a nearby nursery school and nurses from the hospital you've selected. Make sure everyone you're considering has a conveniently located office, as you won't want to travel any real distance every time your baby has the sniffles.
As soon as you have three or four good possibilities, call and set up an interview with each of them. You want to make sure you have a good rapport with your paediatrician, and if you seem to be in sync during the interview, that's a good sign. Ask about the doctor's hours, how emergencies are handled and any other areas of special interest. Also, make sure the atmosphere of the doctor's office is pleasant and professional, as that can make a big difference in how you feel about your child's care.
(From Dr. Pamela Gallin's book: The Savvy Mom's Guide to Medical Care)