Choose A Pediatrician
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What is a
The American Academy Of Pediatrics has what many consider to be the finest parenting book
available, called Caring
For Your Baby And Young Child Birth To Age 5. In this book they have defined what a pediatrician is for those who are
confused about the difference between pediatricians and regular doctors:
"Pediatricians are graduates of
4 year medical schools with 3 additional years of residency training solely in
This means they are doctors
with at least 3 years of supervised training where they acquire the skills to treat a
broad range of afflictions from basic childhood illness to the most serious of diseases.
Some pediatricians may also have additional training in subspecialties like
neonatal care, child cardiology, or other special problems. Your regular
pediatrician can help you find a pediatrician whose subspecialty matches your child's
When To Start looking For A Pediatrician
You should begin searching for a pediatrician in the final months of pregnancy and
both parents should be present at the interview. Forget about the yellow pages,
newspaper ads or flyers, you cannot get an informed opinion of a pediatrician from an
advertisement. When choosing a pediatrician, a good place to start is by asking your
trusted friends for a recommendation. Your friends will tell you if they are happy with
their pediatrician. This will move you right to the winners circle of finalists. You
should ask why your friends recommend their doctor, and how long have they been with that
doctor. It is very important that you find a pediatrician who you feel completely
comfortable with. As a new parent you should be able to ask them anything, no matter how
trivial in may seem.
Perform A Quick
Background Check On The Pediatrician
Start with a list of a few good candidates and narrow it down to your final
choice. Before you interview a pediatrician you can check with the Federation Of
State Medical Boards (FSMB) to see if there have been any serious disciplinary actions, or
professional peer reviews against the pediatrician. The
FSMB Website has links to your state, or you can call them at
1-817-868-4000 to get the number for your state board. You can also get consumer
advocate books from the Director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group that keep track
of doctors that have been disciplined by a state or the federal government. Get a copy of
the List Of
"Books Of Questionable Doctors" book, organized by state.
To Look For In A Pediatrician
Don't just choose the first pediatrician you meet, interview a few
candidates. A good pediatrician has more than just the core competencies of disease
treatment, which are reactive measures. Your pediatrician should also be
knowledgeable in proactive qualities such as disease prevention, and child
development. Your pediatrician should also be warm, compassionate, and open
minded to your thoughts and feelings, and shares similar views. Make sure your insurance
covers the pediatrician you want to choose. Make sure you interview all potential
pediatricians, and verify that the pediatrician you interview will actually be the one who
sees your child. There should be no charge for this interview consultation.
Items to look
for when you interview a potential pediatrician:
Find out if the practice have more than one office. it
may be more convenient for some people if their pediatrician has more than one office or
belongs to a network. Find out where the pediatrician spends most of their time and
how the time is divided.
Always visit the
office and do an interview with the doctors before making a decision. Look around the
office. Is it clean? Is there a separate waiting area for "sick" and
"well" kids? Some pediatric practices have only one waiting area. This causes
"sick" kids to be in mixed the same waiting area as "well" kids
waiting for their regular monthly checkups, vaccinations etc
Young kids are always
putting toys in their mouths, and having sick patients play with a toy that
"well" patient plays with is a very easy way for germs to spread.
While at the office, talk to the staff. Are they friendly and
accommodating? As a parent you will be dealing the pediatricians staff on a regular basis
the first couple of years of your childs life. It is important that the staff listen
to your concerns and questions. Look for a practice that will accommodate your schedule
when making appointments to see the doctor.
Ask the pediatrician what they do to stay current with the
latest trends in disease prevention, treatment, nutrition, behavioral problems, and child
development concepts. What type of continuing education do they use.
Determine if you want a male or female doctor. As kids
get older, they tend to prefer doctors who are of their same sex.
Do you want an old doctor or a young doctor? Older
doctors of course have experience, but may be retired before your child grows older.
Also, some older doctors may be "set in their ways", and don't embrace new
trends or technology. On the other hand, younger doctors might be more adapting to
the rapid advances in medicine and behavioral studies. Younger doctors may
also lack years of seasoned experience.
Once You Have Been Visiting A
Pediatrician: Things to look out for:
wish to seek an alternative pediatrician if...
Does the pediatrician over treat your child
for simple ailments, running a battery of tests that rack up your bills?
the pediatrician get upset when you seek a second opinion?
Does the pediatrician make you feel
uncomfortable or stupid when you ask for additional details?
Does the staff make you feel uncomfortable
when you call with concerns or emergencies?
Do you or your child feel uncomfortable with
the pediatrician's bedside manner?
Does the pediatrician seem unwilling to listen
to your concerns?