FIND DOCTOR RIGHT and develop a lasting partnership.
Some parents look for a suitable paediatrician before their baby is born. If you haven't yet found Dr Right, read on. A little legwork will reassure you that you've found the right doctor.
First, put together a list of potential candidates. The best experts on doctors are often parents of young children who share your approach to child rearing.
If you know what you're looking for, you're more likely to find the right doctor.
You might be more comfortable with a paediatrician who is a parent, and the same sex as your child. Although this won't be an issue in the early years, older children are often more relaxed with a doctor of their own gender.
Ask how the doctor relates to children and the time you're likely to spend in the waiting room. If there is a long wait because the doctor spends time with his patients, then it could be worthwhile.
Close proximity is a bonus and you'll need to establish if the hospital your doctor is affiliated to is nearby. If you're working, a doctor who consults in the early evening and on Saturday is essential.
It's worth having a personal interview with each doctor. If a doctor is unwilling to meet with you, this is enough reason to move on. Doctors may charge a fee for this meeting.
Ask the doctor where she qualified, what area of paediatrics she specializes in, whom to phone with after-hours questions, how she feels about second opinions, and whether she's contracted in or out of medical aid. Most doctors are part of a group practice and you should ask who fills in for the doctor.
Discuss her attitude to things that are important to you, such as breastfeeding or the role of homoeopathic care. Your doctor may not always agree with you and this isn't necessary to enjoy a good relationship. What is important is how questions are answered. If the doctor's voice is kind and reassuring, you've probably found the right one.
Once you've decided on a paediatrician, do a final screening. The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) has a database of all registered health professionals. Phone. (012) 338 9300 or goto www.hpcsa.co.za/eRegister to order a copy of their register or to ask about a particular health professional. The HPCSA provides names of medical doctors practicing in specific areas.