A pediatrician is a medical doctor who specializes in children’s health and diseases and disorders that specifically affect children from infancy through young adulthood.
You will need to choose your child’s pediatrician circumspectly, as she will be helping you maintain your child’s health throughout the course of your child’s growth and development. Engaging online search tools such as Reputation.com combined with direct referrals from trusted friends and family is a good place to start.
The following 10 tips may help you to navigate through myriad considerations before committing yourself and your children to a long-term relationship with their pediatrician.
1. Ask your friends, family and known parents of school-age children who are likely to understand your needs and parenting style for referrals to a pediatrician they know and trust.
2. If you have moved to a new area and you do not know any other parents, ask your child’s school to recommend a pediatrician they have consistently worked with.
3. If you look for a pediatrician in a private practice, a children’s clinic, or a hospital, be sure to look into the history and reputation of the facility or group practice as well.
4. Check to see if the pediatrician you are considering has had a number of years experience diagnosing and treating children of all ages.
5. Look for a pediatrician who has a reputation as someone who is dedicated in their role as healer of children. Inquire to if they affiliated with any NGOs or charitable organizations associated with assisting disadvantaged youth or children’s healthcare issues and contact them for references.
6. You may need a pediatrician who has specialized in a specific area of children’s medicine. In order to specialize, medical doctors who have completed a three years pediatric residency program must then train for an additional three years in a fellowship program before embarking on a career in a pediatric subspecialty. Contact the specific department of specialization at your doctor’s associated hospital for further information regarding their reputation and case histories.
7. A good pediatrician should have a gentle and pleasant disposition towards children; she should be patient and understanding. Choosing a pediatrician that listens to you and your child and is aware of and attentive to your needs is as important as their medical track record. When checking on your doctor’s references, make sure to focus on this quality of their reputation and character.
8. Request a list of board-certified pediatricians from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
9. Find out from trusted sources if the pediatrician takes her own emergency calls at night. Find out how emergency situations handled by the doctor. Ask if they take patients in the office after regular hours, or if you will need to take your child to an emergency department or urgent care center directly off hours.
10. Your financial relationship with your pediatrician will of course be a consideration. You should know if your pediatrician has a standard fee structure for hospital and office visits as well as after-hours visits and home visits (if he makes them). Find out if the charges for routine visits include immunizations. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the scope of your insurance coverage before you actually need services. Ask references if payment and insurance issues are easily resolved.
Entrusting your child’s care to someone else should never be taken lightly. Finding a pediatrician who suits your needs — and with whom you feel comfortable — will be one of the most important decisions you make as a new parent. Checking up on that professional’s reputation is essential in every way.
Above all, you need to feel comfortable with the pediatrician’s philosophy and policies. You need to feel that you can trust her and that your questions will be answered and your concerns handled compassionately. You also should feel comfortable with the staff and the general atmosphere of the office because you may be spending more time with this team than you ever imagined!
Sarah Boisvert is a writer who covers a variety of topics including social media, the Internet, and mobile platforms. She also writes about business managements topics such as marketing and finance.