Authored by Kate Beswick in Child and Teen Health
Published on 08-12-2009
There’s nothing more important to parents than their child’s health. And while family doctors can provide care for your child, pediatricians are more specialized in children’s health issues. Pediatricians are not only specially trained to help children, but they also usually have a better bedside manner with children than general practitioners. This is because they are constantly dealing with different children every day. Because of this, they are usually able to make children of all temperaments and personalities feel relaxed and comfortable about visiting the doctor. This can also go a long way if your child is especially nervous about doctor’s visits. But how do you go about choosing the right pediatrician for your child?
The first thing you need to do is compile a list of possible candidates. You can do this by calling the labor or delivery room of the hospital that you delivered your baby at or calling a referral service. There are many types of these services and they have lists of pediatricians that are currently accepting new patients. The list you receive won’t be able to tell you if one doctor is better than the other. But it will give you a list of names that will get you started. Also speak to your friends who are also parents, or the parents at your child’s school or daycare. This will give you a better understanding of which doctors in the area are good, and can also give you an inside scoop of some of the concerns other parents have with their child’s pediatrician.
Once you have a list of possible names, it’s time to visit the doctor’s offices. This will let you see what type of environment your child will be coming to. It will also help you decide whether or not that environment is something you want for your child. When on these visits, look at how many patients seem to be in the waiting room as well as how many pediatricians are on staff at that office. If the waiting room is packed, it may mean that your child may not be able to come in to see the doctor on short notice for times when they get really sick. Many patients also mean that the doctor’s visits with your child may also be rushed because the doctor has too many other patients to see. Likewise, check to see if there are many pediatricians on staff. The higher the number, the more likely it is that your child will see a different doctor every time they visit. This can make for very inconsistent care.
Visiting these doctor’s offices should help you narrow down your long list of names to just a few. Once you have a couple of favorites set up a time that you can meet them and talk to them. This will give you a much clearer picture of how they work and what their health care practices are. Be sure to ask how sick visits work and if you’ll be able to get your child in right away should they become ill. Also ask what the holiday and vacation schedules are like and who will be covering if your child’s primary pediatrician is away. Also ask about fee schedules and payment options to make sure that you are also covered. After you’ve done two or three of these interviews you should have a clear picture of what pediatrician will be able to care for your child best.