February 2021 – After the NICU

Jenny R. McCormick, Senior Editor of PreemieWorld, Preemie Mom

Your baby has been cared for by experts in the field of neonatology. Now finding a pediatrician to care for your baby after he or she leaves the NICU can seem like a daunting task. If you are trying to find a pediatrician, here are a few places to start:

  • NICU Team: Prior to leaving the NICU, ask the neonatologist and NICU team for some suggestions. They will be familiar with the pediatricians who practice in or near the hospital and may be able to give you some guidance.
  • Online Resources: Many online sites have star ratings for pediatricians in your area. Along with the ratings, they provide information on the pediatrician’s background, education, hospital affiliations, insurance networks accepted, staff and peer reviews. https://www.healthgrades.com/
  • Preemie Support Groups: If you know a preemie support group, talk to the other parents. Parents are a great resource in providing insight through their own experiences with pediatricians so they will be honest and give you great information. preemie.inspire.com
  • Direct Approach: Call the offices, talk to the doctors, and learn about how the practice is run. Some things that may be especially important are to ask such as what do after-hours calls look like and the waiting room policies for sick children. Also, if your baby has special health care needs, make sure that the physician understands those needs and that the practice has the expertise to handle them.
  • Preemie Resources: Another great resource is The Preemie Parent’s Survival Guide to the NICU by Deb Discenza and Nicole Conn which contains helpful questions for parents searching for a pediatrician after the NICU:
      1. What kind of experience do you have with babies graduating from the NICU?
      2. Can fragile infants be shown directly into an exam room upon arrival and wait there?
      3. What well-check schedule does your practice follow for preemies upon discharge? Is it the same as non-preemies?