Choosing a Good Pediatrician
From a Nursing Perspective: Ashley Watson
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When I was four years old I was diagnosed with Precocious Puberty. It is a condition when the body of a child begins to develop adult-like features too soon. At that time, this wasn’t all that common especially in the African American community. If someone was growing too fast “before their time” that just meant that granny was feeding you the right things. We had to go bra shopping, get the “birds & the bees” lecture early, and learn how to keep our hygiene up. Well for my family, this was something new for us and we weren’t all that educated on it. It was obvious that there was something wrong with me… I was taller than my kindergarten class. I started getting breast right away, and I noticed that my body odor had changed.
Fast forward to age five years. I would spend about an hour or so at Children’s Hospital in the Endocrinology clinical receiving injections and going through physical exams to see how and if my growth had slowed down from the previous month. I will never forget looking at a growth chart every month and being poked in alternating thighs for the next five years. As a young adolescent that was a lot to deal with. But I became comfortable with it because of the amazing team of nurses I had, and my smart, holistic pediatrician.
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Choosing the right pediatrician for your child can be really difficult, especially when trying to find someone who aligns with your beliefs and values for your child’s health. As a nurse, I encounter many different doctors on a daily basis in both clinical and practice and I see their interactions with patients. Even while dealing with my situation as a child, there were many Pediatricians that my family and I had to choose from but ultimately I think our final decision came down to who was going to provide the best, possible care and still be able to show compassion while doing their job.
Before starting this process, I would recommend writing down your expectations for your Pediatrician. This is a partnership and the main goal is for everyone to work together to make sure that this new bundle of joy grows up to be healthy and strong, at a normal rate. If you can write down your beliefs and values for your new baby, then it can make the process of choosing a Pediatrician easier. Now, there aren’t any guidelines to choosing the right Pediatrician but being someone who is in practice I would recommend taking the following into consideration:
1. Start the process while you are still pregnant.
I know, as if you don’t have a million other things to do while being pregnant, but I think it helps with organization and it allows for the transition from birth to that first follow-up to be a little smoother. This is also important when looking at insurance coverage. Depending on your insurance plan, you may or may not have free-range to choose a Pediatrician, but at least you’ll know what options you have to pick from.
2. Use online data-bases to browse through options and be sure to check out patient ratings on the physician that you’re considering.
It’s almost like shopping for the perfect carseat! You know that you want the top-of-the-line, state of the art model, but you’re also going to look at customer reviews before purchasing. It’s the same concept with choosing a pediatrician for your baby. Customer ratings can tell you a lot about a physician, but remember it doesn’t tell you everything. While still important to check it out, you will just have to use your best judgment.
Be sure that while using your online resources to find a Pediatrician, that you look at their credentials. This is one of the most important components to consider when choosing a Pediatrician. How much experience does the physician have? How long have they been practicing? Is their licensure up-to-date? All of the questions are things that you should be considering when researching a Pediatrician. If you do not see the answers online be sure to ask the physician personally at a consult appointment. You also want to find out whether or not the Pediatrician has experience outside of an office. For example, has he/she worked in a hospital? Urgent care? Clinics outside of the US? All of these can provide you with a sense comfort, knowing that the physician has knowledge in different health care environments.
3. Find out who your OB/GYN would recommend.
Use your resources! I can’t tell you how many times patients settled for a physician that they didn’t care for. This is because they didn’t reach out to other resources. Most times, if you love your OB doctor and find that you two are connecting, and your values/beliefs align with each other. They can recommend someone who is along the same lines as they are.
4. Choose a Pediatrician that is near you.
I would highly recommend choosing a physician that is near you. It a lot to pack up a newborn and travel an hour outside of your radius for a quick appointment. There’s always the misconception that inner city doctors are not as good as those who are in more Suburban area. I work in an inner city hospital and I have to say that I work with pretty amazing doctors. They give the same care, if not better, as those who work in Suburban areas. It’s all about using your best judgement.
5. Set up a consult appointment (or getting-to-know-you appointment) with each physician.
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Once you have narrowed your search down to your top 3-4, set up a consulting appointment. Now this may seem like a lot, especially when handling a new born baby, but it ultimately comes down to the Pediatrician’s interaction with the mom, dad, and most importantly the baby. For me, having a Pediatrician who took a Holistic approach to healthcare and actually showed interest in my life outside of my health was very important to me. As a nurse, I see too often where physicians aren’t taking the time with patients and their families. So finding a Pediatrician who cares for you and your new baby outside of their health is key when trying to choose one.
I hope that these five key components help your process of choosing a Pediatrician for your baby a lot easier!
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