For many parents, finding a good pediatrician to care for their child is a high priority, but it can prove hard to find the right fit. Since school is starting soon, we want to share some of the best metrics you can use to tell if a pediatrician is right for you and your child.
In this article, you’ll learn what a pediatrician is, what a pediatrician can do, and how you can find the right one for your child.
What Is A Pediatrician?
A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in young patients: children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) further explains that the mission of pediatrics is to help provide physical, mental, and social health and wellness for infants, toddlers, children, teens, and young adults.
During medical school, pediatricians receive specialized training to help them understand how to administer pediatric care. With residency programs, certifications, and more, the education of a pediatrician ensures only the most qualified students treat children.
In general, a pediatrician often serves as the primary care provider for patients, offering routine care, but also diagnosing and treating physical, emotional, and mental conditions.
What Does a Pediatrician Do?
One of the primary points of distinction between pediatric care and adult care are the appointments themselves.
During these appointments, pediatricians work through age-specific check lists that help monitor a child’s health and development following Bright Futures Periodicity schedule’s recommendation. Oftentimes this involves some repetitive but necessary checks:
- Measuring height, weight, and head size
- Testing vision and hearing
- Performing a complete examination and ensuring that the child is growing and developing as expected
Although pediatric care is imperative for all patients under 18, it’s especially important for children from birth to 5 years of age. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observes, “The first 5 years of life, especially the first 3 years, [are] an important period of growth and development.”
It’s a period when they develop language skills, cognitive skills, motor skills, and bonds with their family. A pediatrician will ensure that young children are reaching these benchmarks.
After a child reaches one year of age, their pediatrician begins checking behavior, eating habits, and sleeping habits. Once a child hits school age, their appointments will become more involved.
In addition to a regular physical exam, pediatric appointments at this stage may also include discussions about a child’s:
- Physical activity
- Motor and language skills
- Reading and comprehension skills
- Level of independence
- Sleeping habits
By this stage, children generally experience increased social interactions with people, which assists in developing their social skills. But these interactions can also display or highlight behavioral issues, which pediatricians can catch.
As children reach their teenage years, pediatric care again shifts focus. In addition to regular physical exams, pediatric appointments with teenagers may also include discussion of the following:
- Sexual activity
- Birth control
- Self-examinations of breasts
The pediatrician’s team is the medical home for a child so it is best to consider a few important details when choosing one.
How Do You Choose One?
When it comes to the search for a pediatrician, Kids Health recommends expecting parents “start looking [for one that meets their needs] three months before the baby is born.”
Oftentimes family, friends, coworkers, and even other doctors can make recommendations for potential pediatricians.
Healthline provides some example questions parents can ask themselves when considering a pediatrician:
- Is this pediatrician in convenient location for my family?
- Who recommends this pediatrician and why?
- How does their pediatric practice operate?
Thankfully, when it comes to choosing a pediatrician, parents have the privilege of introductory appointments. These appointments allow parents to meet with pediatricians prior to any regular appointments with their child. They give parents the opportunity to ask questions that will ultimately help them choose their child’s pediatrician.
Although we recommend that parents write a list of personalized questions for these appointments, there are a few that should be on every parent’s list:
- Does your office provide access to on call pediatricians 24/7?
- Are there multiple offices?
- What insurance plans does your office take?
- Do you respond to portal messages?
- Do you provide access to electronic appointments and requests?
- Are you affiliated with a nearby hospital?
By allowing parents the opportunity to ask these questions, introductory visits shed light on what’s important.
An Important Choice
Finding a pediatrician for your child can be a daunting task. But the right pediatrician can help you equip your child with great habits that will benefit their long-term health.
With MCR Health, parents can establish a strong foundation of health for their children. Together, parents and pediatricians can help advocate for children to live a healthy and happy life.
We encourage all parents who are interested in finding a great pediatrician to schedule an appointment with us today!