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  • Vaccinations and regular well-baby check-ups, illnesses, diseases, and injuries—these are words that practically dominate every parent’s vocabulary, especially in the early years. There is nothing parents wish more for their kids than a healthy start and a lifetime of good health. This makes the role of a pediatrician such an important one.

    Pedia Checklist

    What steps should parents take when choosing a pediatrician? Seasoned parents cite their most important pointers below:

     1. Be off to an early “hunt.” If you’re pregnant, begin listing down pedia candidates by the end of your second trimester. This allows for an informed decision and enough time to balance pros and cons. 

    2. Ask your family and friends for referrals. Pediatricians referred by people you know may be a good list to start with; you can get a firsthand description of good and bad points. The next best person to ask would be your obstetrician. This usually works for first-time “pedia-seekers” and is the simplest, most hassle-free way of finding a good pediatrician.

    3. Inquire about the doctors through their secretaries or receptionists—after all, they are the doctors’ representatives and front liners. If you choose a doctor whose secretary is disinterested  and less than willing to give you the information you need, then you will have to deal with the same cold shoulder every consultation or check-up.

    4. Visit clinics to see if they are child-friendly. Doctors’ waiting rooms should provide good “distractions” and entertainment (e.g. a simple play set, TV showing kiddie programs or videos, reading material for children, an aquarium). Is the waiting room packed with patients? More often than not, patients lining up at a doctor’s clinic usually signify a trusted and respected doctor. However, parents should also consider that more people in a clinic also means longer waiting. Note the addresses of all of your doctor’s clinics, especially if he or she has more than two. It’s an added convenience to have your doctor’s clinic near your home or your workplace so you won’t have to take your babies or young tots on long rides.


    5. Check the doctor’s schedule and availability. If both parents work, it’s wise to scout for a pediatrician who has clinic hours on weekends or after office hours. It is also convenient and reassuring for parents if the pediatrician is available four to five times a week. Some doctors even volunteer to give their home and mobile numbers in case of emergencies.

    6. Does age matter to you? Young kids may find it easier to relate to a younger pediatrician, and may not ease up right away to older people. However, an older pediatrician has many years of practice under his or her belt. Remember, though, that the doctor’s age does not really tell you upfront what he or she can and can’t do; and it isn’t automatically a gauge of how good he or she takes care of patients. 

    7. Male or female? Some parents and kids feel more comfortable with female pediatricians, as women are seen as more motherly. But many parents have seen how little gender matters, though, stating from experience that male doctors can be just as nurturing. 

    8. Consider the professional fee. Pediatricians’ professional fees may depend on their expertise, years of practice, and where they hold clinic. Getting the most expensive doctor does not necessarily mean getting the best health care. It is practical and logical to get a pediatrician you can afford. Remember that children need to see their pediatrician not only when they are sick but also for regular monthly check-ups, vaccinations, booster shots, etc.

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    Know Your Pediatric Specialists

    • Pediatric Allergologist/Immunologist – provides treatment for allergies and other problems regarding the immune system, like asthma and sinusitis
    • Pediatric Critical Care Specialist – provides special care for serious illnesses or injuries
    • Pediatric Dentist - provides oral health care 
    • Pediatric Dermatologist – provides treatment and care for skin problems such as warts, severe birthmarks, etc.
    • Pediatric Endocrinologist – provides care and treatment for hormonal and glandular disorders that may cause growth problems and other ailments
    • Pediatric Gastroenterologist – provides treatment for liver, digestive, and nutritional problems
    • Pediatric Geneticist – provides care for children with congenital anomalies
    • Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist – provides care and treatment for blood diseases and cancer
    • Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialist – provides treatment for persistent or recurring diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, meningitis, etc.
    • Neonatologist – provides care and treatment for newborns with breathing disorders, infections, and other serious conditions
    • Pediatric Nephrologist – provides treatment for kidney disease or bladder problems
    • Pediatric Neurologist – provides care and treatment for disorders related to the nervous system, such as epilepsy, hydrocephalus, behavioral disorders, etc. 
    • Pediatric Pulmonologist – provides care and treatment for lung problems such as chronic cough, apnea, asthma, etc.
    • Pediatric Rheumatologist – provides proper evaluation and treatment of joint, muscle, and bone disorders
    Can you still switch doctors?

    Dr. Rivera stresses the importance of being proactive. Parents have the right to choose their child’s pediatrician—and to seek a second opinion or even switch doctors should they feel their current one is lacking in any way (e.g. usually unavailable, kids don’t warm up to the doctor).

    Dr. Rivera candidly adds that doctors should be professionals and should not harbor any ill feelings toward parents or patients who opt to go to another doctor. Still, it is best to talk to your child’s doctor first if you have any concerns that you deem significant to your child’s health care. If you have done so and have reached no resolution, then it is time to look for another doctor.


    What Makes A Good Pediatrician?

    Dr. Esperanza F. Rivera, a practicing pediatrician for over 40 years and former president of the Philippine Pediatric Society, lists the key points to consider when choosing the right doctor for your child:

    Solid medical experience. Years of medical practice, fellowship, and attendance in local and international medical conventions are proofs of doctors’ experience and expertise. The hand you will entrust your child’s life with should be adept at treating a broad range of childhood illnesses. Having additional training in subspecialties like neonatal care, child cardiology, or allergology and knowledge in disease prevention and child development are valuable assets as well.

    Patience. When it comes to kids’ health, parents ask a lot of questions. It is quite easy to spot a patient doctor, as children are naturally “testy” on the first meeting and may even end up in a fit when the doctor tries to examine them. How the pediatrician reacts to this behavior and how he manages the child’s tantrum will pretty much be a test of his patience. Good doctors have tricks saved for screaming children. 

    Confidence. You can easily sense a doctor’s confidence in the decisions he or she makes. This eventually affects his or her competencies, capabilities, and effectiveness. You need to be able to put complete trust in your pediatrician, and most of the time this trust is based on how the doctor carries himself when communicating with the child and with the parents. A pediatrician should be one who maintains a sunny bedside manner (for the times you need to call in the middle of the night), gives a thorough explanation, and offers support and simple suggestions.


    Warmth, compassion, and open-mindedness. A good pediatrician must consider the patient’s and parents’ thoughts and feelings. He or she shouldn’t make hasty decisions without consulting the patient’s parents. Most parents dislike the idea of a pediatrician who is distant and uncommunicative, someone who just prescribes medication and is not up to detailed discussions about the child’s health.

    Shares similar views and beliefs as the patients and parents. Find out early on if the doctor shares your views about sensitive issues such as circumcision, breastfeeding, immunizations, parenting methods (e.g. attachment parenting), or alternative medicine. The pediatrician should be open to other approaches, be willing to support your choice, or at the very least be able to give you an unbiased opinion about the alternatives that you seek.

    Choosing the right doctor does not mean leaving all the decisions and responsibilities with him—parents remain to be the primary arbiter of their kids’ health.

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