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Choosing a Pediatrician, Plus Week in Review

Dear Debi,
How do I choose a pediatrician for my child?
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Find a pediatrician before your baby is born
  • Get referrals from other parents
  • Explore a doctorís background and training
  • Free and low-cost health care is available for low-income families
  • Communication between a pediatrician and family is very important
And donít forget about the great things that we learned this week:
Expert Advice
Dr. Maia Alees
Dr. Maia Alees
Parents should begin looking for a pediatrician as soon as theyíre planning a pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, it gets harder and harder to do the search. Also, once the baby is born, a pediatrician must examine your child at the hospital and itís better if thatís the pediatrician youíve chosen. During the first few weeks after a baby is born is when theyíll be visiting their pediatrician the most, so itís important to have chosen your doctor before the baby is born.

Most parents tend to go about finding a pediatrician through referrals, such as from their OB/GYN, since they work so closely together with pediatricians. Another good way is through family and friend referrals.

Itís important to have good communication with your pediatrician so you can feel comfortable asking questions. In this case, the patient is someone who canít speak for him or herself, so itís crucial to have a good rapport and work together with the pediatrician to take care of the childís needs.

When searching for a pediatrician, parents may want to ask potential doctors the following questions:
  • Are they board-certified? Parents can actually go online and check that the pediatricianís license is current and check their record.
  • Whatís the philosophy on immunizations? Some pediatricians donít advocate immunizations and you need to know where he or she stands.
  • Whatís the philosophy on treatment? Does he or she advocate a more natural or homeopathic approach while others believe strongly in medication for nearly every ailment?
  • Whatís their availability? You should find out who you would talk to after hours, what the office hours are, how would you reach him or her in an emergency.
  • What hospital do they work with? If you should need your child to the emergency room, this can ensure that you go to the hospital where your pediatrician is sure to be the one who treats your child.
  • Whatís the staff level of knowledge and involvement? You should know how much the staff will be involved in procedures.
  • What insurance do they accept and what happens in case of insurance lapse?
  • Do they charge for vaccinations? There are plenty of other places that will vaccinate for free so if they charge, thatís something you should consider.
If you canít afford a private pediatrician, there are lots of community-based clinics with excellent pediatricians. There are things you should look into when finding a pediatrician through a clinic. You should find out what the wait is, talk to the staff, talk to the people in the waiting room, and find out what services they offer. Itís important to talk to others about what their experience has been to make sure thatís something that works for you.

Itís important that parents and pediatricians speak the same language so they can understand one another. If your pediatrician doesnít speak your native language, you should ask whether or not they have interpreters. If they donít use interpreters, you might be able to get one free of charge from your insurance company.

When you visit the pediatrician, itís important to ask about what vaccinations theyíre receiving and what theyíre for. You also should discuss the nutritional needs of your child and what kind of physical activity they should be doing. Youíll also want to know about developmental milestones and what you should be expecting when. Finally, you should discuss with your pediatrician how to modify your environment for safety as your child develops.

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Topic: Health & Safety
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