A a parent, you need partners you can trust and count on for the myriad of questions that arise when it comes to your child’s health and wellness. Additionally, there may be times when you need to find a pediatric specialist — whether that be a dentist, ophthalmologist, allergist or other. In short, you need medical professionals who are the best fit for your child’s needs. But how do you find them?
Here are some tips for choosing a pediatrician or other pediatric specialist:
Training. Take time to find out the medical school where the doctor did post-graduate and residency training. This is important as it can shed light on their expertise as well as the overall quality of their education.
Reviews. Lean into a little online research. A simple Google search can yield big insight, or at least other food for thought or good questions to pose during your initial inquiry with a medical professional.
Logistics: location, hours, and scheduling. When is the pediatrician available and does their schedule work with your needs? Though, of course, we all need to have flexibility in our lives, we also need to work with services who can work – as feasible – with our scheduling needs as well. Simple things like some evening or weekend hours are a necessity for some families in ensuring access to needed medical services. Additionally, can you get to the pediatrician’s location easily? How are visits for acute illnesses handled? Can an appointment be secured on short notice if your child needs to be seen due to an earache, sore throat or sudden fever?
Affiliations. Does the pediatrician or specialist work with a hospital, which hospital and in what capacity? In the event your child would need hospitalization there is value in working with the healthcare team who already knows your child and their medical history.
Team. Is the physician or specialist part of a larger practice? Who will cover for them during their vacation or other leaves of absence?
Accessibility. What should your expectations be when asking questions about your child’s health? If you have a routine question, will the doctor or a member of their medical team (i.e. a nurse) be accessible? And how will you be able to contact them?
Collaboration. If your child ever develops a serious illness that requires the care of one or more specialists, how will your pediatrician coordinate or collaborate with a group of professionals to care for your child?
Connection. How does the medical professional connect with your child and family? Are they genuinely interested in your child and questions either of you may have?
Clarity. Does the doctor communicate clearly to explain illnesses and treatments and does the doctor make an effort to ensure that all your questions are answered?
Insurance. Be sure to understand what insurance is accepted and the office policy of processing.
Fees. Take the time to understand what will be the fees you will be responsible for when seeing the doctor for sick visits, routine examinations, or further treatment by a specialist.
Taking time to select the right medical professional for your family may be one of the best investments in your child’s health.
Jeannie Fleming-Gifford has a MA in family and consumer sciences with a specialization in child development and is the executive director at Fairmount Center for the Arts. Her passions include outdoor adventures, volunteering to raise potential autism service dogs, and writing.