Choosing the right pediatrician for your child – Omaha World-Herald
As a parent, you want the best health care available for your child. However, choosing the right health care provider can be a difficult task. As a new parent, you may be struggling over how to choose the right pediatrician, or even if you should use a pediatrician as opposed to a general practitioner. Following are considerations for your child’s care.
Pediatricians are not your average physician
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatricians spend anywhere from three to six years in pediatric residency training after medical school. Other doctors can spend as few as three months in pediatric training. This means pediatricians receive up to 24 times more training in the specialized care of children than other doctors.
Because they care only for children, pediatricians are able to focus on the latest research and changes in pediatric medicine. They have the skills to treat a wide range of ailments, from basic childhood illnesses to more serious diseases, and they are experienced not only in the physical, but also in the emotional and social development of children. A pediatric office and staff will tend to be geared more toward children, understanding that children are not simply small adults.
Starting your search
Plan to begin looking for a pediatrician during pregnancy and make a decision during the seventh or eighth month. This allows you to make an informed decision versus one made in the haste and excitement following the birth. This will also allow the pediatrician to examine your child within the first 24 hours after birth while you and your baby are still in the hospital.
Consider a provider who follows the medical home model where care is focused on all aspects of the child’s well-being, not just on medical needs. For example, a medical home provider may offer lactation consultants and/or behavioral health services in the office or oversee referrals to other medical providers, act as a liaison with school or child care providers and offer patient care coordinators who can assist with community resources, education or other needs.
Ask your own doctors, family members, co-workers and friends for recommendations; and check with your health insurance provider to see which pediatricians are covered under your plan. Verify that the doctor is board certified, and ask if he or she has an independent practice or belongs to a network of physicians, which hospitals or other medical facilities the doctor is associated with and where the doctor’s office is located. You should also check with your state medical board to see if any pediatricians that you are considering have been disciplined for wrongdoing.
Meet your top choices
Finally, schedule a “get to know you” meeting with any prospective pediatrician. Some pediatricians do not charge for this initial visit. Prior to the visit, compile a checklist of questions to ask the doctor. Interview as many pediatricians as necessary until you find one that is trustworthy, compassionate and shares similar views and philosophies on caring for your child.
By following these guidelines, you will help ensure that your child receives the best health care available. For more information on how to choose the right pediatrician, call the Children’s Physicians referral line at 800-336-0304.