How to pick the best pediatrician for your kids.
When it comes to picking a pediatrician for your kids, there are a lot of things to consider. You want to make sure you find someone who is qualified and experienced, but also someone your kids will feel comfortable with.
Here are some tips to help you find the best pediatrician for your children.
What is a pediatrician?
Pediatricians are doctors who specialize in the care of children from birth through adolescence. They often focus their careers on a certain age group, such as infants, preschoolers or adolescents. Pediatricians can also specialize in areas like sports medicine and child abuse detection.
What is the difference between a pediatrician and a family doctor?
Pediatricians are doctors who go to medical school right after college (typically 4 years of college then another 4 years of medical school). A family doctor usually goes to medical school immediately after high school. Family doctors may also specialize in areas like gynecology, geriatrics and psychiatry. They can perform a variety of different medical procedures, from delivering a baby to prescribing medication.
What do pediatricians do?
Pediatricians provide services like shots and health screenings. They look for diseases and make sure children grow and develop normally. Pediatricians also provide general health checkups, do physical exams and administer medications. They can also write prescriptions for certain childhood illnesses.
Things to consider when choosing a pediatrician:
Interview pediatricians to see how they interact with you and your kids
Your pediatrician needs to be someone you feel comfortable with and whom your kids like.
Take your kids with you on the interview, if possible. If they’re too young to come with during the consult, talk to them about it afterwards and see what they think of the doctor. They will not only tell you how warm the doctor is, but how comfortable they were with the equipment and office space as well.
Ask about their background
All pediatricians should have the same license, but their background and experience may vary. You can ask about where they went to medical school and if they did an internship or residency. Also make sure they are up-to-date on all of the latest research in pediatrics by asking what journals they read regularly and what conferences they attend.
What types of patients do they see?
Some pediatricians only see infants, others treat adolescents or both adults and children. Some may work in a hospital setting, while others practice independently with no affiliation to any medical facility. Find out what kind of patients the doctor treats and make sure it’s someone you feel comfortable with.
Consider the hours of operation
Most pediatricians work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but make sure you can schedule an appointment that fits your schedule. You may also want to find out if the doctor is on call, as this may be a consideration should your child become ill during non-business hours.
Make sure the office location is convenient for you and your kid.
If you have a new baby, you will be going to the doctor’s office very frequently. It is important the location of the doctor’s office is not inconvenient or out of your way. You will have a lot of errands to do with the baby. It would be a hassle if you had to drive a long way for check-ups and vaccination appointments.
Location is not the only thing you should consider, but also whether or not they have Saturday appointments. Usually pediatricians have office hours from Monday – Friday, so if you have a new baby and both parents work, it’s hard to schedule appointments. If the pediatrician you want has Saturday hours, then that is great! You can schedule an appointment on Saturday morning if your days off are Friday or Sunday.
Pick a pediatrician that has experience treating children with similar health conditions as yours.
If your child is very small or has Down syndrome, you need to pick a pediatrician that knows about their special conditions. If your child doesn’t like needles, find out if the pediatrician uses numbing cream before giving shots.
It’s also important to pick a pediatrician who is warm and friendly. Ask for recommendations from people whose children your child’s age. Ask around and find out if your friends or coworkers’ kids like their pediatrician too. If you’re expecting, ask the pediatrician how they handle breastfeeding and circumcision and if they can answer any questions you have about these topics.
Picking a pediatrician that understands your values is also very important. For example, some pediatricians do not vaccinate their children. Other pediatricians prescribe antibiotics too quickly. You need a pediatrician that meets your standards of care for your child.
Look at reviews online
When you’ve narrowed down your list of potential pediatricians, look at reviews online and ask around for recommendations from people whose children attend the doctor’s office. If there are many good reviews and recommendations, then the doctor is likely the right choice for your child.
Once you’ve chosen a pediatrician, go in for a consultation and make sure you feel comfortable with the person. It may take you a couple of tries to find the best pediatrician for your child, but keep looking until you find someone who is friendly and warm while also providing excellent care to your little one.
Is the pediatrician recommended by your OB-GYN?
If you are pregnant, most likely your OB-GYN is suggesting a pediatrician to you already. They may have a specific one that they prefer. If not, ask which hospitals they work with and then check out the pediatricians that work there.
If you and your partner have different preferences, ideally you will both be on board with the same doctor. If not, try to compromise and split up responsibilities for attending appointments. You can each go to separate appointments and then share your experiences with the doctor when you come back home.
What to expect from your pediatrician
Your child will be weighed and measured at every appointment. They will ask about how your child is doing and they might do a quick physical exam to check for any problems or developmental delays. If there’s anything wrong, then the pediatrician will suggest appropriate treatment. A well-child visit usually lasts longer if they need shots. Your child might cry during a physical exam, but that’s normal. The pediatrician might use a needle to get the immunization out of your child’s muscle and it may hurt for a little bit. It is important to remain calm and hold your child while they receive their shots so they feel comfortable too.
Here are some questions to ask a prospective pediatrician and your family.
- What is your philosophy on vaccinations?
- Do you have Saturday hours?
- How do you handle breastfeeding and circumcision?
- Do you prescribe antibiotics quickly?
- Where do the majority of your patients come from (referrals, word-of-mouth)?
- Can I bring my older children with me as well (older siblings may be more comfortable with the pediatrician knowing their role too)?
- What is your fee for an office visit?
- Do you have a sliding scale fee system (low-income families)?
- Can I make payments?
- How are emergencies handled after hours or on weekends? Is there a pediatric on-call service, or can I call your home number?
What Should You Do If You Choose To Switch pediatrician ?
You should let your current pediatrician know that you are dissatisfied and then give them a chance to fix the problem. If they try to solve the issue and still do not meet your needs, ask for references of other pediatricians in the area. Then, go on interviews with your top choices and pick one that fits your family’s needs best.
What To Do If The Pediatrician Is Unresponsive To Your Needs?
Sometimes, despite your best effort to work with them, you are unhappy with the pediatrician’s responsiveness to your needs. This may be due to a lack of time or attentiveness to your child during appointments. You should give your doctor one or two months to work on your concerns, but if the issue is not resolved after that time, it’s time to start looking for a new pediatrician.
Parents often feel reluctant to switch because they feel like their child will be attached to their doctor. If you are worried about this then bring your child in for an appointment with the pediatrician you want to switch to so they can meet each other. You can also let your child know that their doctor is moving and show them the new pediatrician’s office space, picture or business card. This will help your child understand why you are changing doctors and will ease any anxiety they may have about it.
The bottom line
It is important for parents to take the time to find a pediatrician who they feel comfortable with. As you can see, there are many factors that go into this decision and it should not be left up to chance or whimsy.
If you need a pediatrician around Sugar Land TX, Pediatrics of Sugar Land is a great choice. When it comes to fertility and planning for pregnancy, caring for a newborn, and navigating the complex phases of parenting, we’re committed to providing you with the most up-to-date information possible. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment!