As any parent of a new baby knows, you spend a lot of time at the pediatrician’s office, which is why finding someone you can rely on becomes so important. A good pediatrician not only answers all your questions, but also helps manage any niggling fears and concerns you have. What should parents be looking for when choosing someone to fulfill this important role? Here’s what a few of Dayton’s local experts have to say.
Making a connection
The best relationships start from a place of trust and respect. Dr. David Roer, a pediatrician at Pediatric Associates of Dayton says, “Parents should look for a pediatrician that they feel will become ‘part of the family.’ Someone they can trust, can feel confident with, can believe is always looking out for the best interests of their children and will always be there to answer their questions.”
Dr. Michael Kessel, a pediatrician with PriMed Springboro Pediatrics, agrees. “You don’t necessarily need to have the same ideas, but your pediatrician should be someone with whom you feel comfortable asking questions and having discussions to provide the best care for your child.” Dr. Kessel recommends scheduling a pre-natal visit before the birth of your baby to ensure that the relationship will be a good fit.
Having an open line of communication is another important aspect of the parent-pediatrician relationship. Dr. Marie Seiler, a pediatrician at PriMed Springboro Pediatrics, says that parents should “establish rapport, ask questions freely and have a sense of trust with and compassion from their pediatrician.” She always advises patients to ask any question, no matter how silly it might seem. “Your concerns should be validated and you should be respected as you are an important person on the team that encourages wellness of your child.”
In the same vein, having a doctor who is a good listener is key. “Your pediatrician should listen to you and rely upon your observations and ability to recall important details about your child in order to assess his or her physical, mental and emotional health and recommend the safest and best treatments,” says Dr. Seiler. She recommends that parents look for qualities in their pediatrician that mesh with their own personalities.
When looking for a pediatrician, referrals from family and friends as well as internet research can help you find a good match. “As a parent, you are your child’s best advocate and it is important to do your research when looking for a provider for your child,” says Dr. Mulakkan Yohannan, a MEDNAX-affiliated neonatologist and NICU Director at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “With the world virtually at our fingertips, you can search for reviews of potential providers and their practices online. And don’t hesitate to ask friends, family and the community about their pediatric provider as they have personal interactions and can share feedback.” Dr. Yohannan also suggests parents consider the location of the practice and the ease with which appointments can be made when selecting a pediatrician.
Questions to ask:
Coming prepared to a meeting with a potential pediatrician can make your visit as productive as possible. Drs. Roer, Kessel, Seiler and Yohannan suggest these questions to bring along to your appointment.
- Why did you decide to become a pediatrician? Do you have children yourself? Do you have any specialty areas of interest?
- Are you certified by the American Board of Pediatrics? Do you have an American Academy of Pediatrics Fellowship?
- How long have you been practicing?
- Do you have partners in your practice? If you are my child’s primary physician, how often will I see one of your partners?
- Do you see babies in the hospital when they are born or if they are ill?
- Do you offer any options for assistance with breastfeeding?
- What is your philosophy on antibiotics and immunizations?
- What hours/days is the office open? Do you offer evening or weekend appointments?
- How do I contact you if we have an emergency? What about after hours or on the weekend?
- What hospital do you admit patients to?
- Do you have a 24/7 Nurse Line that I can contact for general questions?
- How far in advance do checkups have to be scheduled? Do you offer same-day sick appointments?
- Is there a separate waiting area for well and sick children?
- What types of testing are done in the office?
- (If you have a child with special needs): Are you connected to a subspecialty group or local children’s hospital
Finding the right pediatrician means you will always have a trusted partner in the care and well-being of your child. With a little advance planning and research, you can make the best choice for your family both now and in the future.