Your choice of a health care provider has a significant impact on your child. This decision starts with considering your priorities. What are your main concerns regarding your child’s health and needs? Are you interested in holistic health or conventional medicine? What kind of relationship would you like to have with your health care provider? Do you seek a partnership in which you are an active participant, or a person who provides authority and direct guidance? It is helpful to educate yourself about health care options and to get clear about the role that you want to play in this aspect of your baby’s life.
More specifically, are you looking for a pediatrician who specializes in the care of children, a family-practice doctor who treats your whole family, or an integrative medicine practitioner who combines Western medicine with complementary or alternative treatments that involve the whole person?
As you research options, consider each potential provider’s point of view and general philosophy on the following topics:
- Integrative or alternative medicine
When you trust that your provider is concerned about your child’s health, you are likely to have peace of mind when she is healthy or sick. Considerations for building trust include the provider’s level of competence, your relationship and how you communicate, and logistics that meet your needs.
- Competence—In evaluating your provider’s ability to provide quality care for your child, ask about her reputation, degrees, licenses, and certifications. How long has she been practicing, and what kind of experience has she had? How healthy and happy does the health care provider seem?
- Environment—Is the atmosphere in the provider’s office clean and orderly, with sensitivity to your child’s needs? Is the staff personable or hurried while communicating? Does the environment feel loving, nourishing, comfortable, and safe for you and your child?
- Communication—The way that you communicate with your child’s provider can make a big difference in your ability to work together for the care of your child. Does the provider collaborate with you as a partner and listen respectfully to your thoughts and concerns? Does she tend to ask for your opinion, or does she tend to give directions? Does she return phone calls? What is her after-hours policy? How does the provider interact with and relate to your child?
- Logistics—If the provider is popular, she might be especially busy. If the office atmosphere is hurried, however, your child might not get the attention that she needs. What are the office hours? How long does it take to get an appointment? How organized is the office when it comes to returning phone calls and keeping records? What are the costs involved with using this provider, and do they fit with your budget and health care plan? Is the location convenient to your home and workplace?
- Research—Thorough research educates you and helps you set your priorities. Recommendations and references from other parents and online reviews can help give you an idea of the provider’s reputation. Set up an interview with the provider, and talk with the staff to get an understanding of the environment. Keep an eye out for red flags such as staff that seem too busy to help, disorder, and an unhappy environment.
- Your Role—You can actively participate in your child’s health care by educating yourself about her constitution and condition. To support your child’s health proactively, you can offer love, care, healthy food, exercise, fresh air, sunshine, and a positive environment every day. When she is sick, you can give her natural remedies and treatments, pay attention to her condition, and make notes to share with her provider. Use a journal to keep track of regular visits to your child’s health care provider. By staying confident in your intuition and advocating for your child when necessary, you can play an essential role in her health care. You are the adult consumer in this provider-patient relationship, so be intentional, and speak up about your concerns.