As a father, Dr. David Dorsa understands how important it is to have a good relationship with your children’s physician. He chose pediatrics as his specialty because of the long-term connections he makes with his patients.
“The relationship between a family and their pediatrician is a special one in medicine,” he says. “Parents should feel like their pediatrician is almost a part of their family—someone who can give you good, sound advice, but also someone who you’re very comfortable with and can talk with about your concerns.”
When should you start looking for a pediatrician?
During your baby’s first year of life, you will see your doctor 6-8 times for well-baby checkups, not to mention unplanned visits for situations like a fever or a first cold. Choosing a pediatrician who will be there with you from the very beginning is an important decision for expecting parents.
The best time to start looking for a pediatrician is while you’re still pregnant, typically when you’re between 28 and 34 weeks along. By then, you’ve probably thought about what you want in a pediatrician, and you still have time to do your homework.
“I always tell parents you want to look at picking someone you’re going to become close with and friends with professionally for 20 years,” says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw.
When choosing a pediatrician, Dr. Bradshaw suggests:
- Talking with friends who have children and ask for recommendations.
- Attending a new-parent class. That’s a good opportunity to meet pediatricians and ask questions about the doctor and the clinic.
- Ask how the clinic handles phone calls for medical assistance outside regular clinic hours and who will see your child if your pediatrician is unavailable.
- Inquire about the provider’s stance on important issues, including vaccinations and breast feeding.
“Philosophically, it’s really important for you to agree with the things that your pediatrician is talking with you about and to feel free to have that conversation,” says Dr. Bradshaw. “That doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything, but you have to feel comfortable asking that person questions—anything, tiny, large—and feel confident that they’re actually listening to you and trying to address your concerns. I think it’s also important to ask, ‘What’s your philosophy of taking care of families?’ And let the provider talk for a little bit; find out what drives this person.”
“The relationships that we have with families are such privileges,” says Dr. Karen Ortiz. “I want parents to come and feel like they’ve really been heard and listened to—that they come to a place where they can get answers but also reassurance, and understand if their child is sick or not sick and receive the treatments that they need.”
“Every child and every family are really different, so you can’t use a cookie-cutter method when dealing with people in general and especially with children,” Dr. Dorsa says. “I really want to get to know the families and the patients that I’m seeing because, to me, that’s the most rewarding aspect of what we do on a daily basis.”
Accessing information when you need it
In addition to in-person care, Eugene Pediatrics provides parents additional support through its comprehensive website and active Facebook and Instagram presence—places where parents can access information beyond their scheduled appointments.
The providers at Eugene Pediatrics see their patients at their clinic and in the hospital at Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend in Springfield, immediately after the birth and when patients are admitted due to illness or injury.
“That’s a unique aspect of our practice. If we have a kid in the hospital, all six of us doctors are talking about that case, so you have the expertise of over 130 years of pediatric practice coming to help your child,” Dr. Bradshaw says.
One other important note in choosing a pediatrician: Once you’ve compiled a few names of doctors you’re interested in, make sure they are providers covered by your health care plan. Check your plan online or call your health plan provider directly.
For a list of additional questions to ask when choosing a pediatrician, click here.