Choosing A Doctor For Your Child
When it comes to managing healthcare for your child, one of the most important steps you can take is to select a pediatrician or family physician with whom you can build a long-term relationship. Why? Your child’s doctor will begin treating your child from infancy, monitoring his or her growth and development for years to come. They will oversee vaccines, treat common colds and illnesses, conduct annual physicals and make sure they are growing up healthy!
Some expectant parents wait until the last minute to select a doctor, often finding themselves at the hospital for delivery without one lined up. “If you don’t have a pediatrician on board for your baby’s first appointment 2-3 days after being released from the hospital, the hospital may assign you one or delay your baby’s discharge from the hospital,” states Dr. Alison Shuman, a CMHS pediatrician with a practice at the Centers for Family Health in Oxnard. Dr. Shuman also chairs the Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) Department of Pediatrics and is the Medical Director of the CMH Pediatric Hospitalists’ Program.
“When you find out you are having a baby, the first thing you should do is start thinking about who will be your pediatrician. That’s more important than decorating the baby’s room,” Dr. Shuman says. “Make selecting your child’s doctor a priority.”
Many doctors who care for children will give expectant parents a “meet-and greet” appointment before the birth so they can meet the doctor in person, ask questions, and check out their office. “You can ask the doctor about their philosophy and see how you communicate,” says Dr. Shuman.
Having a meet-and-greet and asking the doctor how he or she feels about issues like vaccinations, medications, co-sleeping, circumcision, formula feeding and breastfeeding can be helpful for some new parents. You don’t need to agree about everything, but you do need to communicate well.
Expectant parents can also ask friends for referrals. In many cases, it’s important to choose a physician who is affiliated with your hospital of choice. This can streamline the treatment and follow-up process in the event that your child requires acute care or hospitalization.
We recommend considering at least these factors when selecting your child’s physician:
- Does the physician have a patient-centered practice where you can communicate with them 24/7 either by phone, by scheduling an appointment within a day or two, or communicating online? Can you get a same-day appointment for urgent needs?
- Do you prefer a male or female doctor?
- How close is the doctor’s office to your home, workplace or daycare? Twenty minutes away might not seem like a lot, but it can be with a newborn in the car!
- Will the doctor still see your child if you are late to an appointment?
- Does the office take your insurance?
The CMHS Centers for Family Health have 3 Urgent Care locations and 18 clinics across Ventura County, some of which have nighttime hours until 8 or 9 p.m. – when most doctors’ offices are typically closed. Each location has multiple doctors available so your child can be seen when he/she needs care. CLICK HERE (and then on the clinic name) for Urgent Care locations and hours.
Parents who deliver at the new Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura and select a physician at one of the Centers for Family Health enjoy easy access to follow-up care at all the clinic locations.
“We have a great group of doctors, and our patients have access to a network of pediatric specialists, including a pediatric neurologist, pediatric surgeons and a pediatric endocrinologist,” says Dr. Anthony Russell, a pediatrician and the CMHS Chief Administrative Officer of Ambulatory Medicine.
The Centers for Family Health accepts almost all insurances, including Covered California, Tricare and MediCal.