Your child’s pediatrician is an essential part of the network of people who will be looking out after him or her. You will need to be able to trust in the pediatrician four preventive care as well as checkups. When your child is sick, you will count on the pediatrician to be available. In addition to making sure that a pediatrician is licensed and in good standing with the medical board, there are other considerations that may be important to you, such as the languages spoken by the doctor or his or her years in practice. As you consider which pediatrician to choose, keep these six important qualifications in mind.
1- Board Certification
You may want to consider a physician who is board-certified in pediatrics. Doctors with this certification have completed additional training beyond their four-year medical degree. St. Louis Children’s Hospital also suggests asking the doctor where he or she went to medical school, which training and residency programs he or she completed and how long he or she has been in practice. If you choose a doctor who is newer, you will benefit from the latest knowledge, research and skills that are taught to physicians. On the other hand, choosing a physician who has been in practice for a while provides you with real-world experience from taking care of countless children.
2- Hospital Privileges
If your child needed to be hospitalized for an illness or injury, consider whether your pediatrician has admitting privileges at your local hospital or the nearest children’s hospital. When a child has to go to the hospital, he or she may be scared and anxious. Having some continuity of care from his or her pediatrician may help to mitigate those fears. Even if your pediatrician does not have admitting privileges, you may wish to ask which hospitals the doctor recommends for acute care and emergency situations.
If your child is multilingual, you may wish to have a pediatrician who speaks the language that is spoken in your home. You may also want a doctor who will email, call or text you back when you have a question. Consider how communications such as test results or requests for a prescription refill are handled. If you are unsure of whether your child’s illness is an emergency, find out if the pediatrician will call you back or simply refer you to the nearest urgent care center or emergency room.
4- Sick Visits
While you will see the same pediatrician during routine well child checkups, consider whether or not your child will see the same pediatrician when he or she is sick, according to Northwoods Pediatric Center. Continuity of care is important to understanding your child’s overall health. Ask if your pediatrician and the practice overall use the medical home concept. You may wish to ask which days your pediatrician is in the office and how sick visits are handled. If your child becomes acutely ill overnight or on a weekend or holiday, consider the doctor’s qualifications and policies on handling those situations. You may also wish to ask about coverage if the doctor is on vacation or out of the office for another reason.
5- Prescribing of Medications
If your child needs a refill or has a common issue such as pink eye, some doctors will simply call it in without you needing to come in for an office visit. If you prefer that your child receive antibiotics straightaway for an ear infection, ask about the doctor’s stance on prescribing medication in that situation. You may also want to consider how the doctor treats common behavioral issues such as attention deficit disorder and whether the doctor recommends counseling, classroom modifications, medication or a combination of these options.
6- Philosophy of Child-rearing and Stance on Controversial Issues
According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the pediatrician’s philosophy of child rearing is another important consideration. Some doctors may recommend child-led potty training, while others do not. Also ask about the doctor’s stance on some controversial issues that may be important to you, such as breastfeeding versus bottle feeding and vaccinations. Agreement on these issues will make for a stronger relationship between your family and the pediatrician.