As a parent, you want the best health care available for your child. However, choosing the right doctor can be a difficult task. As a new parent, you may even be struggling with whether to use a pediatrician or a general practitioner. Here are some benefits of choosing a pediatrician 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, whereas other doctors can spend as little 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. 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 as well, understanding that children are not simply small adults.
When you should choose
Knowing the benefits a pediatrician can offer your child is only the start. Next, you must decide which pediatrician to trust with your child’s health care. You should 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 birth. This also will allow the pediatrician to examine your child within the first 24 hours of birth while you and your baby are still in the hospital.
Look for a medical home
One important component in choosing a pediatrician is to look for a provider who follows the medical home model. In a medical home, care is focused on the all aspects of the child’s well-being and not just on the medical needs. For example, a medical home provider may offer lactation consultants and/or behavioral health services in the office, 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.
You also can ask your own doctors, family members, co-workers and friends for recommendations for a pediatrician. In addition, check with your health insurance provider to see which pediatricians are covered under your plan. Other things to consider are if the doctor is board certified, 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. Check with your state medical board to see whether any pediatricians that you are considering have been disciplined for wrongdoing.
Finally, schedule a “get to know you” meeting with perspective pediatricians. Some pediatricians do not charge for this initial visit. Prior to the visit, compile a list of questions to ask the doctor during the visit. Interview as many pediatricians as necessary until you find one who 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.
To set up a FREE Get To Know You visit with a Children’s Physicians pediatrician, click here.
Parenting U for new parents
Children’s Hospital & Medical Center is offering a free Parenting U class on "Preparing for Your Newborn" on Monday, June 24. Register here to learn expert advice from Katie Vollmuth, M.D., Children’s Physicians, Gretna, on what to do before your little one arrives.