Choosing the Right Paediatrician for Your Kid

Even before your child is born, it will be important to start compiling a shortlist of paediatric clinics in your area. To give your child the best chances of living a healthy life, you’ll want to do your due diligence in selecting paediatric specialists to care for them from infancy through their teens.

Choosing the Right Paediatrician for Your Kid
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Here are a few tips for finding the right paediatrician for your child:

1) Choose a Practice in a Convenient Location

When possible, choose a qualified paediatrician located close to home. While it may not seem like the most important thing to think about compared to the paediatrician’s qualifications, having quick and easy access to the paediatric clinic can determine how often you can make necessary visits. If the paediatrician is located in an out-of-the-way area, it may become all too easy to rationalise delaying or skipping your child’s appointments.

2) Consider Recommendations by a Trusted Physician

Generally speaking, laypeople are not always qualified to recommend physicians. However, if you have a good relationship with your GP, they may be qualified to give a more informed recommendation. If you’re up for a check-up at your GP, consider asking them about paediatric clinics in your neighbourhood that may meet your child’s needs

3) Check for Recommendations from Friends and Family

Close friends and family members may not be as qualified as a trusted GP when giving recommendations, but they should still be able to provide valuable insights. If they also have children, they may be able to recommend a specific paediatrician or practice for your child. Make sure to ask about the practice’s general approach to child medicine as well as the attending paediatrician’s communication style.

4) Ask If Your Child Can Expect to See the Same Doctor Each Visit 

Many paediatric clinics today employ multiple paediatric specialists and your child’s medical history records may not be under the care of any single doctor. This may mean that your child may not necessarily see the same doctor each time you book an appointment.

This is not necessarily a problem if the clinic is properly managed and if your child is gregarious and trusting. In most cases, however, there are benefits to having your child see one paediatrician throughout their childhood.

The added continuity of care can be valuable if your child has a chronic condition such as diabetes, asthma, or a genetic disorder. Additionally, you and your child will not have to repeat the symptoms to every new paediatric specialist you encounter. Appointments are also generally quicker if your child has a regular doctor. What’s more, introverted children may have a much easier time communicating their symptoms to a doctor they’ve grown to trust.

5) Check If the Practice Allows Last-Minute Appointments

Unless your child is facing an immediate life-or-death emergency, it’s usually better to take children with a sudden health concern to a paediatrician rather than the A&E. In many cases, a paediatrician will be better equipped to understand the implications of a child’s symptoms compared to an A&E doctor.

For this reason, it’s good to have a list of paediatric clinics that allow walk-ins and short-notice reservations. If you already have a regular paediatrician that you and your child trust, make sure to have another clinic on file that could take appointments on short notice, in case the regular paediatrician is only available on specific days.

6) Research the Physician’s Credentials

Generally speaking, any qualified paediatrician should be able to address basic needs such as vaccinations and regular checkups. However, if your child has a condition that requires special care, it may be best if they are checked up on by a specialist. By taking some time to choose a more specialised paediatric practitioner, you can ensure that your child enjoys a better healthcare experience.

7) Check the Practice’s Hours

Because health emergencies can happen at any time, it’s usually best to choose a paediatric clinic that could accommodate your child’s needs at night, on weekends, and holidays.

8) Observe the Doctor’s Rapport with Your Child

When your child becomes a toddler, they will be able to start directly communicating with their paediatrician. At this point, you may have to consider how well your child and their doctor interact. 

Paediatricians have to contend with communications challenges that are inherent when dealing with children. Some doctors and even many parents forget that most children cannot express themselves in the same way as adults can. As such, the doctor’s abilities to listen and build rapport with your child should be key considerations when selecting their regular paediatrician.

9) Consider the Paediatrician’s Approach

Paediatric specialists can often differ in their approaches. For example, some may actively advocate breastfeeding or integrative treatments while others may not have strong opinions on either. Some may lean heavily towards pharmacological solutions while others aim to minimise their use. Others may be guided by the ethics of their religion or other belief system in addition to the Hippocratic Oath. 

While such preferences may not make any difference on a one-off visit, they may be significant if your child will be seeing the same paediatrician through their formative years. Take some time to discuss the potential outcomes of different approaches with your GP or with friends and family members who are also medical practitioners.

Will I Make the Right Choice?

All licensed paediatricians, regardless of their beliefs or approaches, should be qualified to care for your child. Of course, some doctors may be a better fit for your child, given your specific circumstances.

That said, it’s important to keep note of all the paediatric clinics and doctors you shortlist. Your child’s needs as well as your circumstances, address, and insurance can all change at any time. This also means that the right paediatrician may change as well. By keeping your options open, you can ensure that your child’s healthcare needs can always be met.

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