Choosing Pediatricians is a decision which leaves many parents feeling confused and intimidated. After all, this person is going to be caring for your child’s health. It’s only natural to be concerned with their qualifications and expertise.
However, there’s no reason to panic. Choosing between Pediatricians in your area is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be an intimidating one. Here, we’ll provide you with a few simple guidelines and suggestions. These suggestions can help you sort through Pediatricians and end up with a doctor who is well-qualified, knowledgeable, and with whom you get along well.
What Pediatricians Do – The Basics
We all have memories of our childhood doctors, peering down our throats and into our ears. Even though these child exams are an important part of any Pediatrician’s job, there’s much more to this valuable occupation.
Pediatricians are, very simply, doctors who specialize in the needs of children. “Children” includes every age, from babies in utero all the way up to young adults. Most general Pediatricians see patients from birth to age twenty-one. However, there are many other Pediatricians who specialize in a particular age group, a particular set of conditions, or a particular outlook on medicine.
All Pediatricians do have one thing in common: they have dedicated their careers to the health and well-being of children.
A very popular and time-honored method of choosing a Pediatrician is to ask your friends and family. If they or dislike the Pediatrician they’ve been seeing, they’ll be ready to tell you. However, it’s important not to follow this advice blindly. They may love their doctor, but that’s not a guarantee that you will.
Gather recommendations from as many sources as you can. Friends, family, online parenting websites and groups, and specialized support groups (for special-needs children) are all excellent resources.
Once you’ve compiled a list of local Pediatricians, start setting up short meetings. There’s no need to take these meetings to extremes and ask about small details, but don’t be too broad and general, either. Ensuring that you agree with a Pediatrician on some important and controversial parenting issues is essential. If you discover a major disagreement, it’s better to know sooner rather than later.
Due to the effort and time it takes to meet with several different Pediatricians, many parents begin this process during pregnancy. If you’re seeking out a doctor who treats expectant mothers and their babies, this is especially important. Even if you’re looking for a regular Pediatrician, not a perinatal specialist, it’s best to have things sorted out well before your child is born.
Important Issues to Discuss
Disagreeing with your Pediatrician can have serious ramifications. For example, if you have decided to breast-feed but your Pediatrician is a fan of bottle-feeding, you’re not going to get the best advice on the subject.
Alternative medicine is a very popular topic these days. Some Pediatricians see it as a very viable compliment to traditional medicine, while others see it as little more than mumbo-jumbo. If you want alternative medicine to be part of your child’s healthcare regimen, make this clear with any potential Pediatricians.
If you’re having trouble finding a Pediatrician who incorporates alternative medicine, try asking alternative doctors, such as homeopaths and naturopaths, for recommendations. They’re likely to be aware of any natural-medicine Pediatricians in your local area, since the world of natural medicine is a more closely-connected one than traditional medicine.
Breast-feeding is one issue on which you should see eye-to-eye with your Pediatrician. After all, there is a fundamental difference between breast-feeding and bottle-feeding, and fans of either “side” tend to be very set in their views. If you can prevent such a disagreement before it becomes an issue, dealing with your Pediatrician will be much easier. You will get more informed advice about whichever method you choose, which will lead to a healthier and happier baby.
Vaccines and immunizations are also a very controversial issue. Some parents and doctors blame these preventative measures for a host of childhood illnesses, from autism to allergies. Others maintain that vaccines are vital for healthy children. There are many whose beliefs are somewhere in the middle.
This is a crucial issue to discuss with any potential Pediatricians. Some Pediatricians refuse to see children who don’t have all their immunizations and vaccines, and others refuse to administer these same shots. If you don’t agree on the topic, you’ll most likely be stuck looking for a new doctor as soon as the time rolls around for a child’s first round of shots.
The use of antibiotics is another hot-button issue today. Many parents and Pediatricians believe that the over-use of antibiotics in years past has contributed to the development of so-called “super bugs” which are resistant to bacteria. This problem arose from the well-meaning use of antibiotics to treat viruses. Viruses can’t be treated with antibiotics, but some doctors prescribed them anyway, hoping to ease parents’ worries.
Some feel that these drugs are still prescribed too readily, and without proper testing. Ask your potential Pediatricians what their feelings are about antibiotics. Do they prescribe them only for bacterial infections? Do they give some illnesses a chance to clear up on their own before administering drugs?
These questions are better asked now, before your child comes down with something. Once you’re dealing with a child who doesn’t feel well, you’ll be worried and probably very tired as well. Things will be easier on you and your child if you have the antibiotic talk with your Pediatrician before the need for any medication arises.
As with any other relationship, the relationship between you and your child’s Pediatrician relies heavily on communication. Communication is more than simply telling the doctor what’s wrong. The way you communicate can mean the difference between a happy, relaxed visit and a tense, frustrated one.
Ask how long a potential Pediatrician usually spends with each patient, even during wellness exams. Do you prefer a longer appointment, where you can discuss all your concerns? Or would you rather be in and out as quickly as possible? Take this, and the Pediatrician’s answer, into consideration.
Do you notice the Pediatrician talking down to you, or not explaining things thoroughly? This is an easy trap for doctors of any specialty to fall into, simply because they deal with complicated medical terminology on a daily basis. However, a good Pediatrician will ensure that every parent understands exactly what is going on with their child, and understands all treatments and medications.
A Pediatrician who seems to talk down to you may be an excellent doctor, but chances are good that they will wear on your nerves. Once you’re annoyed with them, you’re more likely to subconsciously cut visits short simply because you dislike talking to them, and this can lead to compromised care for your child. Ensure that you feel completely at ease talking with your child’s Pediatrician. It’s one of the easiest ways to make sure your child gets the absolute best healthcare.
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