Is Your Pediatrician Your Kid’s BFF?
Posted 4/20/2017 by UHBlog
From consultations about fevers to conversations about puberty development, you and your child’s pediatrician are destined to have a long relationship. That’s why it’s so important that you find a doctor you trust early on, says pediatrician Douglas Fleck, MD.
“If you don’t feel comfortable with your pediatrician, it’s going to be hard for you to be open about a lot of what’s going on with your child,” Dr. Fleck says.
According to Dr. Fleck, good care relies on mutual respect and honest communication.
“You want to leave the pediatrician’s office feeling like your concerns were heard and addressed,” he says. But peace of mind only comes if you trust your pediatrician’s judgment and advice.
With all that pressure, finding the right pediatrician can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task. To help you make your decision a little bit easier, Dr. Fleck offers these seven tips:
- Start looking early. Most hospitals will ask for the name of your pediatrician when you’re admitted to the hospital to deliver the baby. And due dates, as any mom of a preemie knows, are anything but predictable.
“You really want to be prepare ahead of time so you don’t show up at the hospital and have to make a decision on the fly,” Dr. Fleck says.
- Ask your friends or family members for recommendations. People who have gone through the search process before are often the best source of knowledge on local doctors.
“Word of mouth works really well,” he says.
If you're new to the area or don’t have friends in the same life situation as you, Dr. Fleck recommends checking out the American Academy of Pediatrics' referral site as a good starting point.
- Check the doctor's location and office hours. While proximity shouldn’t be the only factor you look at when choosing a physician, it is important that the doctor’s schedule and office location are compatible with your life.
“If you hear great things about a doctor but he’s located 40 minutes from your house, he may not be the best fit for you,” Dr. Fleck says. Similarly, if it's hard for you to get away during the workday, you may have to limit your search to doctors who have night or weekend hours.
- Make sure the doctor is in your network and find out which hospital he or she is affiliated with. Bills can add up. That’s why it’s important to verify that your pediatrician accepts your insurance before committing to a visit. The same goes for hospital stays.
“I recommend asking the (potential) doctor what hospital they are affiliated with and what their procedure is if your child gets admitted to the hospital,” says Dr. Fleck. Sometimes doctors don't have admitting privileges at the hospital you prefer. It’s good to have this information on hand before a potential emergency comes up.
- Schedule a meet and greet with the pediatrician. While a doctor may sound great on paper, face-to-face interactions give you a chance to see how the two of you connect on a personal level. And if you are switching doctors, meet and greets are a great opportunity to see how the pediatrician responds to your child and his or her questions.
“You want to make sure that the doctor has a genuine interest in your child’s problems and any issues they are going through,” he says.
- Spend time observing the office staff. Between questions about schedules and billings, you will end up interacting with the staff a lot. You want to make sure that the process will be a pleasant one.
"The office staff is key,” says Dr. Fleck. “They are the first and last people you are going to see when you come in for a checkup.”
These are some of the qualities you should take note of, he says:
- Do they appear compassionate?
- Does it look like they have patience?
- How are they interacting with other parents in the waiting room?
- Don’t be afraid to walk away. Just because a pediatrician works well for someone else doesn't mean he or she is the right match for you. If you don’t have the same beliefs as your doctor on the subject – or if the doctor isn't open to hearing your thoughts or reasoning on the topic – then it might be time to look elsewhere.
“As parents, you are going to have a lot of questions on everything from discipline to immunizations to antibiotics,” he says. “Sometimes personalities don’t click.”
Douglas Fleck, MD, is a pediatrician at Rainbow Ashtabula Pediatrics. You can request an appointment with Dr. Fleck or any other doctor online.