Tips for Choosing a Pediatrician
A Personal Decision
Choosing a pediatrician is one of the most important decisions you will make for your child’s health. Your pediatrician serves as your child’s primary care doctor. Your pediatrician will guide you through many decisions about protecting your child’s health or treating a condition. How do you find the best pediatrician who is right for your family? Here are important factors to keep in mind.
Start with a referral list from your own doctor. You can also ask family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. If you’re new to an area, ask your former pediatrician for a referral in your new town. Then, take the time to research the pediatricians’ credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com. As you narrow your list, visit open houses that many practices offer so you can learn about the practice. You can also make appointments to meet and interview the pediatricians
Research the Pediatrician’s Credentials
Board certification is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting a pediatrician. It tells you that the doctor has the necessary training, skills and experience to provide healthcare for your child. Also confirm that the pediatrician has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You can find the pediatrician’s medical school, training hospital, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades.com and state websites.
Consider the Pediatrician’s Experience
Parents call upon their pediatrician for everything from well-child visits and routine physicals to allergy and chronic headache treatments. So experience matters. The more experience a pediatrician has, the better your results are likely to be. If your child has a specific condition, such as ADHD, ask how many patients with the condition the pediatrician has treated. If you know that your child will need a specific procedure, ask how many of the procedures the doctor has performed and find out about complication rates—complications the doctor has encountered as well as your own risk of complications.
Most likely, your baby or toddler will not care whether a doctor is male or female. While you may have your own preference for your child, think about the years to come. For example, embarrassment or fear of a pelvic exam or breast exam may be a reason that a teenage girl would prefer a female doctor. If gender is not something you want to base your decision on right now, consider choosing a larger practice with both male and female doctors
How to Find the Best Pediatrician for Your Child
BECOMING A PARENT IS both a joyful and stressful time. The arrival of a baby signals not only a shift in lifestyle and priorities, but also the need to care for another person in a way you may not have had to previously. A pediatrician may be able to help you in this journey, and that’s why finding a good one you can work with for the next two decades or longer is so important
According to a policy statement issued in September 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “pediatrics is a multifaceted specialty that encompasses children’s physical, psychosocial, developmental and mental health.” Pediatric care may begin before birth and typically ends sometime during young adulthood. Previously, the academy recommended that pediatricians refer patients to other primary care providers when they reach age 21 but recently removed that upper age limit. “Recent research has begun to shed more light on the progression of mental and emotional development as children progress through the adolescent years into young adulthood. It is increasingly clear that the age of 21 years is an arbitrary demarcation line for adolescence because there is increasing evidence that brain development has not reliably reached adult levels of functioning until well into the third decade of life.”
Regardless of the exact exit date, the pediatrician will be with you every step of the way, from birth to young adulthood. Most patients see a pediatrician for routine exams and health measures as well as vaccines, common ailments and other general health care. Pediatricians can also offer support and advice on how to parent, how best to care for your child if he or she has a specific medical need and what to do if something goes wrong, in which case you may be referred to a pediatric subspecialist to treat the specific health issue. The primary care pediatrician is similar to a family physician or primary care doctor, but may have more specific training in the needs of young patients who are fundamentally different from their parents in terms of health needs because of their rapid rate of development.
Ann E. Burke, professor of pediatrics and program director of the pediatric residency program at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio, says when selecting a pediatrician for your child, parents should consider their training and certification status. As chair of the American Board of Pediatrics, she says “I may be biased, but I think [board certification] is a good way of assuring the public that a doctor has gone through legitimate channels to meet a certain requirement.” You can check whether a certain doctor is board-certified via the American Board of Pediatrics’ doctor search tool.
To become board certified, a pediatrician must graduate from an accredited medical school and then complete an intensive three-year residency program at one of the nearly 200 pediatric residency programs around the United States. To complete a residency program, pediatricians must complete training and pass several exams covering a wide range of specialty areas within pediatric medicine. By the end of the program, pediatricians are well-equipped to deal with most any health issue experienced by an infant, child, adolescent or young adult. According to 2015 data from the ABP, there are currently about 115,000 certified general pediatricians in America, and roughly 3,000 new pediatricians graduate from residency programs each year, about 60 percent of whom go into general pediatrics versus a subspecialty
Tips for Choosing a Pediatrician
Choosing the right physician for your child and family can be a long process. Read our tips to find a pediatrician that meets your requirements.
Many of us view our family pediatrician as a long-term partner in caring for our children, from birth through adolescence. In addition to providing routine medical care, and treating illness and injuries, pediatricians provide guidance in a wide variety of related areas. We often turn to pediatricians for advice when our infant doesnt sleep, our toddler bites her friends, our preschool child becomes a picky eater, or our teenager is moody. Whether were first becoming parents, moving to a new area or changing our health insurance provider, selecting a pediatrician requires thought and research
Start by seeking referrals from people you respect. Approach friends, family, neighbors, and your obstetrician or midwife; ask people who are aware of your style, values, and culture when choosing a pediatrician
There is no one size fits all when it comes to choosing a pediatrician. Deciding upon the best physician for your child is a personal decision for every family. Weigh these factors carefully in making the best choice for your child and family
What are some tips to find the best pediatricians?
I would think that the most important criterion for choosing a pediatrician would be the ability to trust the doctor’s judgement when it came to the evaluation and management of medical problems that your child may have over the years. Secondarily, but still important, is the doctor’s ability to have a good rapport with both parents and children. Thirdly, are the practical concerns.
How do you know if you will trust his/her judgement? This is the most difficult to ascertain as most pediatrician’s reputation among other mothers you will talk to is based on the rapport and personality factors. I agree with Dr. Cho’s answer that getting recommendations from doctors or nurses who work with pediatricians in your community is probably the best way to find this out. You can look online for where they went to school and did their residency, but I don’t think that matters all that much.
In teams of practical stuff: Consider the distance his/her office is from your home, office hours, what hospital she uses (not only for admissions of sick kids but whether she comes to the hospital where you are planning to deliver), reputation for staying on time, gender, language (are you OK with someone where English is their second language or conversely are you looking for someone who speaks your language), age (do you really want to start out with a newborn with a doctor close to retirement), etc.
Ask a nurse or a doctor who they take their children to. Not all physicians will provide quality care just as not all lawyers will give you the best advice. Unfortunately it is difficult for a lay person to determine whether they are receiving quality medical care because medicine is complex. A doctor who orders lots of tests or prescribes antibiotics freely may not be providing the best medical care. Many times I am asked by parents to prescribe their children antibiotics for a viral infection that will not help their child. Instead of writing the prescription and quickly ending the visit, I will take the time to explain the reasons why antibiotics were not the best choice. The parent may not be happy with me and may write an unfavorable review on internet sites but I don’t care—I will do what is best for their child whether they know it or not. That is my fiduciary duty—to provide the care that is in my patient’s best interest not my convenience.
As Rahul Gupta said diet is very important please read “Eat to Live” and “How not to Die” but immunizations also are extremely important and not to be avoided. In general the infectious diseases are much less virulent than in the past due to a better diet I believe.
Tips For Choosing A Pediatrician
Start gathering names
There are several ways to obtain the name of a well qualified pediatrician. For instance, Doylestown Health offers “Find a Provider” search tool that lists all the local pediatricians who are on the Doylestown Health Medical Staff.
Once you have some names singled out, call each practice and find out about the doctor’s education and training. Is she or he board certified? How long has the doctor been practicing medicine?
Do some research
You may want to prepare a list of questions you’d like to have answered by the pediatrician and/or office staff. First make sure the practice is accepting new patients. Try to find out the doctor’s current hospital appointments and where your child would be admitted if hospitalized. Ask about office hours and who handles phone calls during off hours. Also be sure the practice accepts your insurance.
Set up an interview with the pediatrician
Both parents should attend interviews if possible. This is a good chance to have your questions answered and see if a particular physician is a good fit for you in terms of personality and philosophy of care.
Good communication with your child’s doctor is vital. Find out when and how the doctor is available (by phone or email). Learn who covers the practice when your pediatrician is unavailable. Consider the connection between the practice and the hospital and how they would coordinate care and information should your child be hospitalized