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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Click here to read more about different kinds of pediatric specialists and switching doctors.