Dr. Brazeltonís 5 Tips for Choosing a Doctor

World-renowned pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton offers advice for choosing a pediatrician for your child.


T. Berry BrazeltonWorld-renowned pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton has helped parents care for their children for almost five decades. During his noteworthy career, Dr. Brazelton has trained thousands of pediatricians on how to best care for children. He has also been a leading advocate for family and child health. There is only one Dr. Brazelton, but when it comes to picking a pediatrician for your own child, the renowned doctor offers the following advice: 


1. Check the physician’s credentials. Is he well trained, with access to a good hospital? Does he provide electronic medical records for easier access to your files?Is he available when you need him? Does he have coverage for when he is not available? Most physicians practice in a group, so that one member is available at all times. While you may have preferences among the doctors, it certainly is critical to have someone on call at all times.


2. Decide what type of doctor or nurse practitioner you should select. Have you thought about whether a pediatrician, nurse practitioner or family physician, who is trained to provide primary care to adults as well as children, is more suited to the needs of your family?


3. Ask others about the doctor’s personality. Do friends whom you respect seem to like him? Would the doctor be willing to meet with you for an interview? Many doctors don’t liked to be “looked over,” but some don’t mind. I always preferred to have prospective patients know about me and come to me with their eyes open. This gave me a chance to be sure that I could work with them, too. A parent-doctor relationship is a mutual one. Each party should respect the other and be ready to work things out if the relationship becomes stressed.

4. Look for a pediatrician trained in child development. These doctors usually teach in a medical center and conduct a clinic for assessment and for early intervention when there are physical or psychological problems. If you have concerns that are not being answered by your physician, you might consider using one of these child-development clinics or setting up a referral through your doctor to gather advice at certain intervals. This could supplement what your doctor does for you in the way of medical advice.


5. Pick a group practice that has a pediatric nurse practitioner or a child psychologist who can help you with behavioral problems. You can make a special arrangement to see him or her periodically to have an assessment of your child and to get an answer to your stored-up questions. The opportunity to get to know and observe your child will enable him to help you in any decision- making. If your group doesn’t have one, suggest that they might profit by hiring a pediatric nurse practitioner who could answer routine questions, advise you on your child’s development and be an easily available source of support.

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For more tips on working with your pediatrician to ensure your child’s healthy development from birth to age 3, read Dr. Brazelton’s book, Touchpoints: Your Child’s Emotional and Behavioral Development(Perseus Press).

Having a primary physician keeps you from having to rely on a member of the nearby emergency room, who is probably not be as well trained in pediatric health and doesn’t know you or your child. Regular checkups with a primary physician means that he will know you and your child when something goes wrong and, in a crisis, can benefit from prior knowledge of you and your child.



A Few Other Considerations

style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Verdana;">Try to choose a pediatrician before your baby is born. Consider the following when deciding on a doctor for your baby:


What’s the philosophy of care? Do you agree on important issues, such as preventive medicine and use of medication?


Is the office child-friendly? Do you feel comfortable?


Does the doctor listen to your questions? Does he or she answer them respectfully and thoroughly?


Is the doctor available when needed? Does he or she have hours for telephone consultation? Are there hours for well-child visits? How are emergencies handled?


How does the doctor keep parents updated on a child’s progress?