Just like finding the right stroller, the right school, or the right food, finding the right doctor can have a big impact on your child’s health.
But like any trusting relationship, this one needs time and chemistry to make the perfect match.
Let’s take a closer look at how to find the perfect doctor for your kid!
Choosing a Pediatrician for Your New Baby
Pediatricians specialize in the behavioral, mental, and physical care of children.
They do everything from diagnosing and treating illnesses to immunizations and physical exams.
Both you and your child will have a long-term relationship with your pediatrician, so it’s important to take your time and find the right one. (1)
No rush, but it’s best to find one roughly 3 months before your due date if you are expecting.
Ideally, as your baby grows the same pediatrician will grow with them.
A common misconception is that pediatricians are only for infants and toddlers, but the truth is they also care for our teens up to age 18.
In fact, some people choose to stay with their pediatrician into early adulthood!
Important Questions to Consider When Looking For Your Pediatrician
There are quite a few things to consider when choosing your pediatrician.
Let’s have a look at them, shall we?
1. Where’s the Office Located?
Is the clinic close by or do you have to drive halfway to Timbuktu?
Babies need to see their pediatrician frequently during their first year of life, typically every 2-3 months.
The last thing you want is a long commute!
Choosing a doctor that’s close by will be more convenient and save you a lot of hassle and time.
Ideally, your doctor should be close to your daycare, work, and home.
The easier it is to get to the doctor, the more likely you’ll be to show up for regular visits, and that’s what matters most!
2. What Does Your OBGYN Say?
OBGYNs are doctors who focus on women’s health needs, including pregnancy and postpartum issues.
A good starting point on your pediatrician hunt is to ask for their recommendations.
After all, you probably already have a trusting relationship with your OBGYN, and their opinion matters.
They might already know the perfect family doctor in your area as well!
3. Will Your Pediatrician Be Present for Baby’s First Checkup?
When you’re meeting new pediatricians, ask them if they’ll be present for the baby’s first checkup after birth.
When your baby is born, one of two things can happen:
Your pediatrician comes to the hospital after delivery and will do the first check-up there.
If your doctor isn’t affiliated with the hospital, another doctor on site will do the first check-up, and your pediatrician will follow up a few days after at his/her own office.
Make sure to double-check if your pediatrician will be present at the hospital.
The best-case scenario is that your pediatrician knows literally everything about your child, including how they handled the birth.
The extra knowledge can provide insight into any early health issues that may come up.
It’s best for him or her to have a full picture of your child’s health from the very first moment on!
4. What Do Your Family and Friends Say?
Try to ask around your inner circle for pediatrician recommendations.
Especially friends who have young children themselves.
Chances are they will already have a pediatrician they love and you can use the same one.
Remember that finding the right pediatrician is one of the most important decisions you will ever make for your child!
5. Is Your Pediatrician Board-Certified?
A doctor receives a Board Certification after additional training in pediatrics.
While all pediatricians graduate from a medical school, receive a state license, and have completed a residency program, not all of them are board-certified.
It is a voluntary process but is highly valued.
In order to be board-certified, doctors have to take an examination through The American Board of Pediatrics. (2)
The Board Certifications show that they have higher competency in medical knowledge, patient care, professionalism, and communication skills.
6. Is The Office Staff Easy to Work With?
Life can get hectic, and it’s important that your pediatrician’s staff will be accommodating to changing schedules.
For example, ask whether they also do last-minute or same-day appointments.
Also, check if they work in the evening or during the weekend.
How about their general office hours? Are they suitable for your schedule?
And finally, ask if your baby will be checked by different doctors each time or if you can have your primary pediatrician see them every time.
Some clinics operate as a group practice, so your main pediatrician may not always be available.
7. What Are Your First Impressions?
Trust your gut!
Putting your child’s health in someone else’s hands is a big step to take, so you need to feel good about it through and through.
This will keep the line of communication open so you never hesitate to call.
Keep in mind that as your child grows and develops, this chemistry may change.
Especially if your child develops special health unique issues, it may be necessary to change pediatricians at some point. That’s okay!
The bottom line here is to trust your instincts.
If something feels off after a visit, it probably is no longer the best doctor for you and your child.
10 Questions To Ask A New Pediatrician
Which hospitals are you affiliated with?
Do you have two separate waiting areas for healthy and sick children?
How much time does a general checkup take?
Does my insurance cover my child?
What do you think about important topics like breastfeeding, antibiotics, immunization, circumcision, co-sleeping, etc?
Did you always want to become a pediatrician?
Do you have any other medical specialties?
How far in advance can I make appointments with your office?
Do you personally respond to emails or is it just your office staff?
7 Questions To Ask Your Family & Friends About Their Pediatricians
How clean is the clinic?
Do you feel rushed in any way during your appointments?
Does the waiting room have toys or other things to keep the kids busy?
How are the waiting times?
Are staff members kind and competent?
Is the doctor good at explaining things?
Does the office return your calls in a timely fashion?
Choosing a Doctor for Your Teen: Adolescent Medicine Specialist
While your pediatrician will be able to care for your child well through their teens, some adolescents might need a specialist for their individual needs.
Adolescent medicine specialists have extra training to deal with the physical and emotional problems that your teens may face during puberty. (3)
They are specially trained in topics like:
Questions about their sexuality
Problems they may be facing at school or at home
In addition, adolescent medicine specialists often provide gynecology care for our girls as well.
This is great because instead of needing to see both a pediatrician and gynecologist, your daughter can see one specialist instead.
While the parent will still act as a guardian, an adolescent medicine specialist will allow your teen to begin managing their own health.
Finding the Right Specialists for Your Child or Teen
Your primary pediatrician will be the foundation to ensure that your child is healthy and finds the right care.
Depending on the issues your child is facing, your pediatrician may recommend other specialists.
Children’s health specialists your pediatrician may recommend seeing include:
What About Telehealth Options?
Telehealth is changing the way families look at medicine.
Instead of taking a trip to the clinic, you’re able to consult a doctor in the comfort of your own home.
Telemedicine has become increasingly popular since the breakout of COVID-19 because it is simply safer. (4)
There are definitely some other benefits too…
It’s great for avoiding the spread of contagious diseases and is also extremely convenient.
Plus, it can be great for mental health and pediatric psychology. (5)
Ultimately, it’s a more flexible, comfortable, and less time-consuming way to see the doctor.
However, one of the things it lacks is a true sense of connection with the doctor.
No matter what, it just isn’t quite the same as being in the same room as your pediatrician.
This is why we recommend making use of telehealth during the pandemic, but to go back to in-person visits once it’s safe to do so.
If you have any more questions about finding the right doctor for your little one or teen, contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.