How to find the right pediatrician for your family.

So you need to find a pediatrician. Someone you can trust, someone you feel comfortable with, someone you can count on when your child is sick and well. We know choosing a medical professional for your child can be daunting, whether you’re searching for your baby’s first doctor or are looking for a new provider who can connect with your angsty teen. Here are my top tips for choosing a doctor who’s right for your family:

1. Evaluate experience and certifications: All pediatricians who are certified to practice medicine by the American Academy of Pediatrics have to pass certifying examinations regularly, keep up to date on policy recommendations, and graduate from an accredited medical school and residency program. You may want to ask how many years your prospective physician has been in practice and if she has any specialty areas of training. Don’t be scared off by fledgling providers, though. Newbie pediatricians are usually some of the most careful, evidence-based practitioners on the planet.

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2. Check out the office practice: Take a look at the nuts and bolts of the practice in which you’re interested. Are there nurses available to give advice and answer questions (day and night)? How tech savvy is the office? Can you make your own appointments online? Can you get an appointment for your feverish kid right away? Do they have weekend or holiday hours? What are the additional services they offer — is there a lactation consultant, a dietitian, a behavioral health provider? Above all, make sure the practice you choose focuses on your child’s social, developmental, and mental health as well as his physical health.

3. Assess your style and needs: Some parents are all about the process. They need more explanation and information to feel heard and confident. Some parents are all about the end product. They take the information medical professionals give them at face value and don’t need a lot of discussion to feel comfortable. Neither is better, but knowing what bucket you fall into, or if you are somewhere in the middle, is extremely important. Just like you can’t or wouldn’t want to change your personal style, neither can the human being from whom you are seeking care.

4. Take online reviews with a grain of salt: A pediatrician’s website and online presence can provide an important indicator of how well he cares for patients, but be cautious when relying solely on social media or patient feedback from sources like Yelp, Healthgrades or Google Reviews. Remember, not all patients write reviews. Those who do take the time to publicly grade their providers sometimes do so in the heat of the moment, either offering scathing criticism or lavish praise. Instead, ask a variety of trusted friends and family for their recommendations.

5. Double check: If you’re not sure, ask for a meet-and-greet appointment. Pediatricians know choosing or changing doctors can be a big deal! Many offer free opportunities to meet them so you can feel comfortable as you start out or transition care. An in-office appointment will allow you to get a clear sense of how well you connect and will allow you to ask questions face-to-face.

Is there a 100-percent-perfect-in-every-way-shape-and-form pediatrician or pediatrics practice out there? No way. Are there amazing professionals in the Portland area with a strong knowledge base and a vested interest in your child’s health and your parenting success? Absolutely. Look for health care providers who are sincere, who practice evidence-based medicine, and who fit your needs profile so you can optimize your child’s health now and for years to come.

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Whitney Casares, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., is a mom to two young girls and a pediatrician at Pediatric Associates of the Northwest. Every day, she tries to balance taking care of work, her kids and herself, laughing at the craziness of the early years with young ones. She developed modernmommydoc.comto inspire, educate and encourage moms and dads so they can win at parenting without losing themselves.

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