Choosing a Physician for Your Child
An apple every day can help your child stay healthy, but keeping a doctor away will not. In fact, finding the right doctor for your newborn or growing child is one of the most important ways of ensuring a lifetime of good health.
Regularly scheduled exams and vaccinations are important precautions that help prevent disease. An unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated child risks acquiring diseases such as whooping cough (pertussis) and measles. Even newborns benefit from early immunizations such as Hepatitis B.
Find a Doctor Before You Need One
Two types of physicians—pediatricians and family practitioners—have training and expertise in treating children. Your personal doctor may assist you in referring your child to a pediatrician or family practitioner.
Many people rely on recommendations from friends or relatives. However, because their medical history, health insurance coverage or other factors may differ from yours and your child’s, it is a good idea to determine what you’re looking for before searching for a physician.
A hospital’s physician referral service or the county medical society can supply background information. Then, call the doctor’s office before making an appointment. Ask questions to establish some basic information about the doctor and his or her credentials.
- Is the doctor affiliated or on the staff of a hospital you trust and respect?
- Is the doctor board-certified in pediatrics, family practice, or another specialty?
- Does the doctor accept your health insurance coverage?
- Are the doctor’s appointment hours compatible with your schedule?
The First Appointment
The following tips can help you evaluate the doctor during your first appointment:
- Make sure the doctor thoroughly examines your child. The doctor should explain to both you and your child what he or she is doing, in language you can understand.
- Note how attentive the doctor is to you and your child. Is he or she more interested in talking to you than in filling in charts?
- Does the doctor try to make you and your child feel comfortable?
- Are you and your child comfortable with his or her personality?
- Do you share similar philosophies on important issues such as breastfeeding or working mothers?
Some physicians may offer a free or low-cost prenatal interview to expectant parents. This gives you an excellent opportunity to evaluate attributes that you consider important. You may find it easier to relate to a more seasoned physician or to a young, recently qualified physician—whichever you prefer.
Remember that the responsibility for a successful relationship with a doctor is mutual.
- If something isn’t clear, ask about it.
- Know your family’s medical history.
- Volunteer information about any health concerns you have about your child.
- Any medical issues that you have strong feelings about should be communicated in advance.
- Don’t just promise — follow the doctor’s orders.
You’re making an investment in your child’s future good health. Be sure you’re spending your time and money wisely.Abington Hospital – Jefferson Health 1200 Old York Road Abington, PA 19001 215-481-MEDI www.abingtonhealth.org
Call 215-481-MEDI for a free directory of doctors or for information to help you find staff physicians, dentists and podiatrists that match your needs.
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