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Choosing A Pediatrician — When parents bring their newborn baby home from the hospital for the first time, they often feel overwhelmed. Grandparents, family members, and friends are excellent sources of information and support in choosing a pediatrician. However, some of their advice might be based on out-of-date medical information or personal experience that does not necessarily apply to your child. So it can be very helpful to have a pediatrician there for you that can provide unbiased, up-to-date, accurate, evidence-based information to ensure the health and well-being of your child.
So what are the important criteria in choosing a pediatrician for the health and well-being of your child.? Many parents don’t put much thought into this at all. They just meet their child’s pediatrician after the child is born in the hospital. Luckily most pediatricians are well-qualified and are generally speaking nice people. However, just like everything in life, doing a little leg work ahead of time can pay off. Remember that this is a person you are going to rely on with the most precious thing you will ever have in your life.
One thing you can do to try to narrow things down in choosing a pediatrician is to do what you always do when you want to know something: ask someone you trust. If you don’t have any friends with kids nearby, you can try looking at Yelp or other online doctor rating sites like Healthgrades. Though keep in mind that just because a doctor has a bad review or two doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t the perfect choice for you. It is impossible to please everyone as a physician.
Once you have narrowed it down a little, most pediatricians will allow you to schedule a meet-and-greet appointment. During this appointment, you can get a feel for the doctor’s office staff, the location and condition of the office, and the personality of the pediatrician. It’s probably a good idea to first figure out what you are looking for in a pediatrician at the hospital before your appointment. For example, do you want someone who is more paternalistic or someone that feels more like a guide?
Every pediatrician has a different personality and style that will either fit well with yours or clash. A meet and greet can really help you figure this part out.
Perhaps the two most important characteristics you want in a pediatrician are competence and humility.
Competence can be checked fairly easily. The American Academy of Pediatrics conducts board examinations on a regular basis. So just make sure that your doctor at the hospital is board certified. A quick online search should help you figure this out. Some medical groups, like Mercy Medical Group, only employ board-certified physicians. That makes figuring out competence pretty easy.
Humility in your doctor is important because the truth is that no pediatrician knows everything. So during your meet and greet, I would try to ask something your pediatrician is unlikely to know. It is a good sign if your pediatrician is willing to admit their ignorance. You wouldn’t want them to make any medical decisions without being certain of what they are doing. Looking things up is a practice that most good doctors at the hospital do every day since we live in a time when medical information changes very quickly.
The bottom line is that you must trust your pediatrician to provide health and well-being for your child and to help guide you on the most important journey of your life. Children don’t come with owner’s manuals but having someone you can trust by your side will ease the anxiety that we all experience as parents.
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