As father of three young children, I know that one of the most important things in the world is the health of my kids. This desire is shared by parents throughout our community and has been at the front of our minds, especially over the past year. Families need to feel completely comfortable with their child’s pediatrician and choose someone they trust to act as a partner to help care for their children.
For new parents, selecting a pediatrician can feel like a daunting task. One of the best ways to get to know a doctor is set up a “meet and greet” with the pediatrician prior to the birth of your child. This is usually a free 15-30 minute conversation that allows you to ask any questions you would like prior to selecting a pediatrician. Recently, our primary care clinics at Children’s Wisconsin have been able to offer these visits virtually. All you have to do is call the pediatric practice you’re interested in talking to and set up an appointment with a provider.
You should feel comfortable with your pediatrician’s style. For example, some doctors are more formal in their interactions with families and some are informal. To provide the best care, I believe pediatricians need to be able to get to know your family. Having a doctor who wants to put time into learning about their patients and forming solid relationships with their families can be invaluable.
Finding a pediatrician who you can be honest with is important. Parents today are well-informed and sharing opinions about personal preferences can help you find a doctor who fits best. This could include views on medication use, cultural or religious beliefs, or parenting style. You should feel confident that your doctor will respect your perspectives while providing their professional opinion.
Location and recommendation: Other considerations could potentially include location close to your home or a personal “word of mouth” recommendations from family or friends.
Board-certified pediatrician: You should make sure that your doctor is board-certified and has completed a pediatric residency after medical school, passing a licensing exam specific to pediatricians. This ensures your pediatrician can provide care specifically for your growing baby.
Access to specialists: Many children will also require care from a pediatric specialist at some time. Having a pediatrician with a close working relationship with these specialists may also factor into your decision. In my role as a Children’s Wisconsin pediatrician, I am able to connect my patients with expert specialists at one of the top pediatric hospitals in the country when my patients need it.
As I mentioned earlier, be honest with us about what’s going on. Don’t be embarrassed as we really have heard it all. If you don’t agree with something the pediatrician advises or don’t understand something, let us know. The last thing I want is for parents to leave my office confused or with no intention of doing what I recommended simply because they didn’t ask questions.
Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician between scheduled visits if you have concerns. It’s what we are here for. Especially for first-time parents, you’re going through a lot of unknowns. At Children’s Wisconsin, parents are able to reach out through MyChart online messages or phone calls, and can catch problems before they get significantly worse. Medical advice calls are returned by a triage nurse or physician to provide prompt attention to your concerns and questions. This helps ensure that each visit goes more smoothly.
Absolutely! We routinely ask families about these issues as part of well-child care since they are so important. Social issues can have a huge impact on a child’s physical health, and pediatricians also care for the mental well-being of the child. For example, if your child is being bullied or you’re having a hard time setting limits for TV or video games, talk to your pediatrician. We have spoken with many families about these issues before and usually have some good tips.
Share triumphs as well! We get excited for our patients when we hear things are going in the right direction.
You can check the websites of local health organizations, since most have biographies and videos of each of their doctors. You can often search by location, gender, languages spoken, etc. The American Academy of Pediatrics website provides good information, too. At Children’s Wisconsin, each pediatric primary care doctor has a biography on the website.
At the end of the day, trust your intuition and know we are here for you and your child every step of the way.