When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I read every what to expect and caring for babies book I could. I wanted to be as prepared as possible. I remember when it was time to start looking for a pediatrician, I researched how to choose a pediatrician, I asked around for recommendations and printed out a list of questions I wanted to ask potential doctors. I wanted to know their views on vaccines, if they had separate sick and well visit waiting rooms, and what hospitals they were associated with. I settled on one the next town over and was happy enough. Samantha did have several pediatricians during the first few years of her life, but only because we moved a few times, not because I was unhappy with her care. When we moved to our current town, I again asked for recommendations and looked around searching for a good fit for what would soon be my two children since I was pregnant with John. I called the office to schedule an appointment with a doctor that came highly recommended and was told she was leaving the practice, but they could place me with someone different. I am thankful every day I decided to say yes. My children have the most amazing pediatrician and I’m not sure these last few months would have turned out the same if they didn’t.
One of the best and most important qualities she possesses is that she listens to my concerns and trusts my instincts. She understands that these are my children, I am with them every day. I know their good days and their bad, and if I feel strongly that something isn’t right, she believes me. When I went to her with Allison at just a year old and said something is not right about the way she’s walking, she sent me to an orthopedist to check for hip/leg issues. She hadn’t even seen her walk because Allison refused to let go of me during office visits. When the orthopedist said “yes, she has a problem but it is not orthopedic related”, she sent us to see a neurologist, still never seeing Allison’s unstable gait first-hand. I was shocked that she was taking my word for it and trying to help us figure out what was wrong, but so very grateful.
She had a personal stake in Allison’s well being. When we saw the neurologist and she wanted us to wait two months to have a brain MRI done, the pediatrician called the local hospital and got her in the next week. When they canceled her appointment because she was sick and they pushed it back another 9 days, she sent us to an ophthalmologist to make sure there was no pressure on her brain that needed immediate attention. She was not taking any chances with our child’s life. She wasn’t just another patient to her.
Having a doctor that goes above and beyond for you lets you know you chose the right pediatrician. When Allison was scheduled for the MRI on a Monday, the pediatrician called me that Saturday before to discuss how I would like her to handle things if the results were less than desirable. When she was going out of the country for a week on vacation, she called me and gave me her cell phone number so that I could text her if we needed her. When she received the results of Allison’s MRI, she was calling me before I was even out of the hospital parking lot to tell me what they found. She has proved over and over that she is willing to help us in any way possible.
Another important quality you want your child’s pediatrician to have is to know their limitations. We look to the doctor for answers about our child and we trust they have them. This is what they studied and trained for. But having a doctor tell you that they can’t answer your questions because it is out of the scope of their expertise is vital. Some doctors feel free to give out “expert” advice, even if it is not something they are very knowledgeable about. We’ve had this experience personally with a few doctors. If I didn’t pursue second and third opinions, I may not have realized how little they knew. I may have trusted them and my children may have suffered because of it. Our pediatrician never answers questions about test results or diagnoses she doesn’t have a clear understanding about, but she does help us find the right person to talk to in each situation.
The pediatrician should know and appreciate your value as their mother. This goes hand in hand with trusting your instincts, but it needs to be said again. It takes a village to raise a child and especially to care for a sick child. My pediatrician thanked me for following my gut and pursuing a diagnosis for Allison. She told me if it wasn’t for me, we may still not know what was wrong with her. The doctor may have been the one to send us to the specialists and order specific tests, but she realizes that without my input, some things may have been delayed or missed altogether.
If you can’t tell, I think very highly of my children’s pediatrician and feel so lucky we found her. There are so many other examples I can give about how she’s helped with my son and daughters, but I feel this gives you a great idea of what you should be looking for in a phenomenal pediatrician. I wish every doctor was like her but I know it’s just not possible. Perhaps if I didn’t need a doctor that would go to such lengths to help us, I wouldn’t look for these things, but if you have a child that has medical issues and needs extra care and attention, I hope you find a pediatrician that truly cares and is willing to help in any way possible.