Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Pediatrician for Your Child
Pediatricians are by far the most important people parents encounter along their child's growing curve. It is thus very important to choose a pediatrician based on facts and of course that “feel-good “instinct that all parents possess.
Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind when choosing a pediatrician:
- Make a list: The best way to shortlist prospective candidates is to ask around. Talk to trusted friends, co-workers, and family members with children. Ask for their recommendations based on why they chose that particular pediatrician and how long they have been visiting him or her.
- Research the candidates: Educational qualification, any area of specialization, and whether the pediatrician is board certified are important facts. It would be informative to check a website, such as Administrators in Medicine (a website run by administrators of several state medical license boards), to know whether any disciplinary action or charges of negligence have been filed against your chosen pediatrician.
- Visit the pediatrician's office: Proximity of the office to your home, office, and/or child's daycare would be helpful, especially if frequent trips are required. Adequate parking space will also help to make each visit hassle free.
- System of appointments: A scheduled appointment should be easily accessible via phone. Calls should be dealt with and returned promptly and courteously. We have all at some point waited endlessly at the doctor's office. With a sick child in tow, this could be difficult .Therefore, it would be vital to asses the average waiting time for appointments (scheduled) and walk-in services.
- After-hours availability: The pediatrician's availability on the phone (for immediate and emergency access) over weekends and at night is a must. The reassurance that help is at hand can make the most fearful situation seem manageable.
- Atmosphere: Children are perceptive of their surroundings. A bright, cheerful, and welcoming environment would put them at ease. Books and toys could go a long way in entertaining them during their wait. Standards of cleanliness and hygiene maintained at the office should be high. An inspection of the toilets and diaper changing facilities could give you an idea of just that. With increasing awareness of widespread diseases, it is expected that there would be a separate waiting room for sick and well children, in order to prevent the spread of any contagious disease.
- Child-pediatrician bonding: All efforts are in vain if your child is unable to build a rapport with his or her doctor. Your child could understandably have some reservations about a stranger, but the pediatrician's mannerisms and communication skills could make or break the relationship. The pediatrician's demeanor and body language should be pleasant and friendly.
- Pediatrician-parent relationship: Though the pediatrician forms a lasting bond with the child, the parent could still have reservations. As a parent, you should be able to ask your child's health care provider anything regarding your child's health, without fear.
- Affiliation: It is important to know, in case of emergency, which hospital your child's doctor is affiliated with.
- Other services: Insurance claims, availability of X-rays, and laboratory testing facilities should be available at the office. Also, ensure that if your child has special needs, your pediatrician is able to take care of them.
Comfort and trust are crucial when it comes to putting your child's life in the hands of his or her pediatrician. The pediatrician's empathy and knowledge are paramount to your peace of mind, and of course, to your child's health.