Rejoicing in Wrinkles: How to Pick a Pediatrician

As a relatively young female physician, I need to balance professionalism and personality.  I try to be a young, hip, vibrant pediatrician that connects with parents and kids, while at the same time projecting an air of competence, authority, and even wisdom so that families trust me.

I have a relatively informal manner, and I laugh a lot.  But when I need to be serious, I am.  

I wear a white coat, and I wear red boots.

I am still mistaken for a nurse and often get comments about how young I am to be a doctor.  But I also care for patients whose parents are degree-decorated professionals ten to fifteen years older than I am, and they need my advice and listen to what I say.

When I was initially out of residency I joked about dying my hair gray “to get some respect around here.” But it’s coming (the respect, not the gray hair) with time, with experience, and with wrinkles.

The other day a 6-year-old patient of mine looked at my ID badge (with my photo on it) and then looked up at me quizzically. She looked back and forth several times and said: “Doctor, were you young once?

Thanks, I think.


Tips for Parents:

How should you pick a pediatrician?

In my mind, the key to picking a pediatrician, or any primary care doctor, is fit. Choose someone that you feel comfortable with, someone that is approachable and yet professional. You will be seeing a lot of this doctor in the first several years of your child’s life and you should feel comfortable asking them questions and trust in their answers.

It is best to make this decision before your child is born. A prenatal pediatric visit can be helpful in making sure that you’re in the right hands at the moment of your child’s birth. Most pediatricians are happy to make an appointment to meet you before your little one is born.  At this visit you can assess the feel of the office space, your level of comfort with the doctor (do you like them?), and the number of grey hairs they have (not to mention their fashion sense)! Some families will feel best with the grey-bearded gent who wears cookie monster ties and oozes experience, others will want a motherly figure who can soothe frazzled parents and mend scraped knees, while others will seek a with a young doctor full of energy and recently trained in the forefront of pediatric medicine. Most importantly, remember that the right pediatrician for you may not be the right pediatrician for your friends or your family members. So, as usual, trust your intuition. And have fun!

Useful Links:

There are lots of online resources that will help you go through this process and give you lists of questions to ask when you interview prospective pediatricians.

You may want to start with this page from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Online parenting magazines like have extensive suggestions too.

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Filed under General Commentary, Kids Say the Darndest Things

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