Choosing a pediatrician is an important decision in the care of your child. Within the first year of life, your child will be spending a lot of time with the pediatrician for well-care visits. You want to feel confident in your choice of pediatrician not only during these visits, but also in case of sickness. A good pediatrician-patient relationship is important because it can last until age 21.
The following questions can help guide your selection of a Pediatrician:
1. What is the provider’s educational background? Pediatricians have completed specialized training in pediatrics following graduation from medical school. It’s a good idea to make sure the pediatrician you would like to meet is board-certified. Board-certified pediatricians have completed not only medical school and residency programs (on-the-job training) in pediatrics, but they’ve also passed a rigorous exam given by the American Board of Pediatrics. To remain board-certified, pediatricians must continue their education through classes and workshops, demonstrate quality patient care and maintain a valid medical license to demonstrate they are up-to-date on the most current medical practices, knowledge and skills for health care for children of all ages.
2. How do other families feel about dealing with this pediatrician or practice? Try to talk to several families who have experience with any pediatrician you are considering.
3. Where is the practice located? Does the practice have multiple offices? You may want to consider your priorities when choosing a practice location. Should the office be close to home, work, or school? Is it easy to park and enter the office, even with an ill baby or young child?
4. At which hospital(s) does the doctor have admitting privileges? Do these hospitals have emergency facilities? Decide whether you would be comfortable with your child receiving treatment at the hospital(s) where the doctor practices, should the need arise.
5. Will your child always be seen by the same practitioner? Who covers when he/she is away? Is someone from the practice always available for night and weekend coverage?
6. What is the practice’s vaccination policy? Most pediatric offices have a policy on whether or not they are willing to delay vaccinations. You will want to ensure that the practice policies are in line with your decisions and beliefs.
7. Does the practice have separate waiting facilities for sick and well children to help prevent spread of contagious diseases?
8. Is the practice a pleasant, reassuring place for children to be? Does the atmosphere feel welcoming or frightening to young children? Are there books and toys to keep waiting children occupied? Do the practice employees seem to relate well to children?
9. Does the practice accept your insurance plan? If you are using insurance to cover medical expenses, then you need to make sure your potential pediatrician is accepted by your family health plan.
10. Does the practice seem like a good “fit” for you and your child? Is your child comfortable with the doctor and staff? Are you happy with the doctor’s manner and communication style?
Pediatricians choose their specialty because they love what they do! Schedule a visit with prospective pediatricians and get to know them and their staff. Ask questions and trust your instincts. Most parents and children develop close and lasting relationships with their primary care physician. If you take care to select a pediatrician who matches your personality and needs, working together to watch your child thrive will prove to be an enjoyable experience.
Dr. Kimberly Clare is a board certified Pediatrician at Premier Medical Group’s Pediatric Division located in Poughkeepsie, NY. She formerly served as Medical Director for Arlington Central School District. Her special interests include pediatric obesity, sports medicine and school health.
For more information please visit www.premiermedicalhv.com/specialties/pediatrics or call 845.454.4200