Your child’s pediatrician will be one of the most important members of his/her healthcare team. They will be the gatekeeper to care from other specialists and will develop a relationship with you throughout your child’s development. As such it is important to make a careful choice when choosing a pediatrician. These 3 traits are the most important when choosing a pediatrician:
1.) They Have Time for You!
Physicians are busy professionals but high quality physicians will not let their schedule limit the amount of time they spend with you and your child. This is important as children with esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula have complex medical needs that require adequate attention and time for the physician to adequately assess and understand how to improve or maintain your child’s health. While they may make you wait while spending time with other patients, a physician should not cut your appointment short in order to maintain their schedule. They should always prioritize their patients!
2.) They Listen to Your Concerns!
A positive physician-patient relationship is collaborative! As part of a positive, collaborative relationship, you must also be able to voice your concerns and share your experience and opinions with your child’s physician. Although you may not always agree with one another, it is important that the relationship between you and your child’s physician allows for a mutual discussion of ideas related to the care of your child. This ensures that your child’s care will be truly patient-centred.
3.) They are Knowledgeable about Esophageal Atresia/Tracheoesophageal Fistula!
This can be hard to find. Many physicians are inexperienced in dealing with these congenital anomalies because esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula only occurs in 1 in 5500 Canadian births. If you can find a physician with experience with patients with esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula, don’t let them go! Two important questions to ask any physician without experience dealing with esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula are “Are you comfortable in having my child as a patient?” and “How will you ensure you’re providing my child the best possible care?”. If they are uncomfortable caring for your child or unsure of how to learn about their congenital anomalies, it is best to find another physician.
4.) They Don’t Plan on Retiring
This can be tricky. Often those physicians that are most experienced with esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula are also the most senior. Because your pediatrician will be a central part of your child’s healthcare team throughout their childhood and youth, it is ideal if that physician remains the same throughout those years. This continuity provides many benefits including an improved relationship between yourself/your child and the physician, and a more complete monitoring of your child’s development by the physician.
Make an appointment with pediatricians prior to your birth or soon after and feel out their knowledge and attitude to see if they are suited to your child’s and your family’s needs. This may take some effort but I assure you that in the long run it will be worth it!
Note: Some families choose to have family doctors or general practitioners instead of pediatricians for their child’s health needs. If this is the case these traits are still important to consider when choosing a family doctor or general practitioner.