Choosing a pediatrician can be a tricky process. Ultimately,
your goal is to find someone with whom you can develop a lasting
relationship built on trust and mutual respect. It's the same
formula as in all good relationships, but the steps to get there
First, try to determine what you want in a pediatrician.
Are you more comfortable with a doctor who is no-nonsense and
businesslike, or do you need a more empathetic style? Do you
frequently read blogs or other Internet health information that
challenges conventional medical treatment? If so, you'll need a
doctor who is comfortable discussing those issues. Do you want to
talk to a doctor when you have issues outside of office hours or
are you comfortable talking with a nurse?
If you have a newborn, you may want to know the doctor's views
on breast feeding vs. formula. Do you want someone who is
knowledgeable about nutrition, supplements and complementary
medical care? You may want to know the doctor's approach to
discipline and behavior challenges to see if they fit with yours.
Do you want someone easygoing or action-oriented?
Does age, sex, religion or race matter? I know it's not PC to
admit that those things may play a role in your ability to trust
and communicate openly with someone, but for many people they do,
so be honest with yourself.
Once you've chosen a doctor who matches your needs, some things
you should expect are:
It will help your doctor feel respected if you are considerate
of his or her time. Many practices schedule appointments every 10
to 15 minutes. If time is running short and your questions can
wait, ask your doctor if you should schedule another appointment in
a few weeks to finish your discussion. In most cases, the doctor
will finish the discussion right then, but he or she will
appreciate your consideration.
Respect your pediatrician's knowledge and advice. He or she
shares your devotion to your child's health. Even if you don't
agree with your doctor's recommendations, remember that most
medical decisions are based on our current understanding of the
science of children's health.
Doctors really appreciate parents who are active participants in
their child's health care. You should know your child's medications
and understand what they are for, give them as prescribed, and come
back for a return visit when recommended.
Relationships take time to build. In these days of changing
health care plans and preferred providers, it can be hard to
maintain a long-term relationship with one pediatrician.
But knowing your doctor well-and allowing your doctor to know
you and your child well-will help you to get the best care
Dr. Lisa Thornton, a mother of three, is director of pediatric rehabilitation at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital and LaRabida Children’s Hospital. She also is assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago.
See more of Dr. Thornton's stories here.
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