how helpful health care clinics can be

Factors To Consider When Choosing Your Child's Doctor

by Bonnie Gordon

There are several types of health care providers that can deal with a young child's health needs. Here are some of the questions that you should ask in order to determine your ideal care provider. 

Choosing a Doctor or a Pediatrician

Many parents will debate whether they should choose a family doctor or a pediatrician for their child. There are some benefits to each one. A family doctor can be convenient, as you and your children can be seen by the same health care providers. However, a pediatrician may be better equipped to deal with your child's medical issues. 

The difference between pediatricians and family doctors is specialization. Pediatricians are specifically attuned to children's health needs, and they may be more up-to-date on the recent child care research and health care techniques relating to young children. By choosing a pediatrician, you can ensure that you get child-friendly care from a doctor who specifically wants to work with children. 

Looking at Office Policies

Each doctor's office has its own patient policies that could affect the speed and cost of the care your receive. For instance, take note of the office's hours, and ask about their policies for dealing with emergency visits— will they have someone on hand to deal with emergencies, or do they have a set of care providers they can refer you to? The office's policies on same day visits can be telling, as well; if your child has a medical emergency, will you be able to speak with staff right away and get an urgent appointment? Visit each office to collect information about policies surrounding payment, availability, and insurance. 

The Care Team

Your doctor or pediatrician will be the main care provider for your child, so it's important to meet this person before you sign up with the health clinic. However, you may also need to work with other specialists and hospitals; ask about who the doctor would refer you to for more specialized care. Follow up with these offices as well to see what kind of care team you will be working with. 

Children can be seen at health care clinics, pediatricians' offices, family doctors' clinics, and even hospitals. Determining which type of doctor is appropriate for your child does take a little bit of probing, and you need to ask the right questions of each care provider to choose someone who is both experienced and great to work with. When you have several care providers in mind, be sure to follow up with the concerns above to choose the right health care professional.