Find Orlando Family Magazine on Facebook! Follow Orlando Family Magazine on Twitter!

Parenting Guide: Health and Wellness

For parents, the care and well-being of their children is one of the most important things in the world. Therefore, finding a pediatrician who best meets the needs of their child is paramount. But how do you know who the best doctor for your child is? Orlando Family Magazine recently spoke with several experts in the field who offered advice on things to look for and some pertinent questions to ask of a potential provider.

When considering a specific doctor and/or practice, Dr. Roshni Patel, chief of pediatrics at Community Health Centers, advises that parents first “review the practice website to learn about the practice’s vaccine policy and policies regarding appointment scheduling, hours of operation, after-hours policy and appointment availability so you can make sure it works with your lifestyle and you can see the doctor when you need.” Dr. Jaime Candelori, a pediatrics specialist with Altamonte Pediatric Associates, adds, “Parents should check if the pediatrician is board-certified (passed their boards) or board-eligible (have completed their training and are scheduled to complete their board certification). They should also note if the pediatrician is a member of the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), and if they follow the AAP and CDC immunization schedule. Finally, they should ensure that the pediatrician follows evidence-based guidelines for prevention and medical care.”

When it comes to first-time expectant parents, Dr. Lisa Gwynn, president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommends they schedule a “prenatal visit with their potential pediatrician and actually interview different physicians within the practice.” She notes, “One of the advantages to that is that it gives you the opportunity to meet the doctor and see what their communication style is like because this is going to be a relationship that lasts for 18 years, so you want to make sure that their personality and communication style is compatible with yours.”

Stephanie Hunter, a board-certified family nurse practitioner and associate director of clinical services at 26Health, suggests expectant parents ask questions such as, “What is the process once I give birth? When does the baby have to be seen for their first visit? What does your emergency after-hours service look like? Does the hospital send you the discharge information or what do I have to make sure I have?” She adds, “Being a first-time parent is scary and you want to know you are going to be able to ask questions and be guided by your provider without judgment.” All of these providers agree that trust and a good rapport are essential to a healthy relationship with your child’s physician.

Though word of mouth is often a great way to learn of exceptional medical providers in the area, Gwynn says seeing your desired physician is not always possible. “Depending on an individual’s specific health insurance plan, there may be limitations as to who their child will be able to see. Even if there is a small group of providers to choose from, it’s often best to select one of the in-network pediatricians, otherwise it’s going to be a very costly endeavor.” She opines that even healthy children may see their pediatrician a few times a year either for immunizations, illnesses or injuries.

Limited provider options are often especially true of specialists. Gwynn says not only may certain recommended specialists not be on your insurance plan, but those who are may not have the immediate availability your child needs. “If you’ve heard great things about a particular specialist who is on your plan but they are booked for the next five months, then you really have no choice but to find another specialist who can see your child sooner.”

The need for a child to see a specialist is not too common, as Candelori notes. “Pediatricians can care for a wide variety of illnesses and conditions, and feel comfortable managing many different aspects of pediatric care. Many can be handled in the office and won’t require a specialist.” However, she says “if the condition is not responding to treatment or if further diagnostic testing needs to be done, such as an echocardiogram or endoscopy, they will then refer to a pediatric specialist in the area that they trust.”

For older children who may need to see a specialist such as an orthodontist, Dr. Maria Méndez, orthodontist and owner of All About Smiles in Orlando, believes “the most important question that a parent should ask of any practitioner that offers orthodontic treatment is whether that person has had the proper training and education to become an orthodontist specialist.” Méndez also suggests parents consider bringing their younger children along for the visit. “In my office, I let younger siblings come into the clinic while I see and treat their older siblings. This way, they get used to me, my staff and my office. They see what goes on with their older siblings and they are OK with it when it is their turn.”