Pediatricians: Partnering with your healthcare provider

Many healthcare providers now believe the best relationship is a partnership. While providers are the experts on health information, diagnosis, andtreatment, parents are the experts on their child. Together, they make better decisions. For young children, these decisions are most often made duringscheduled well-child visits and also during visits for illness or problems.

Well-child visits
Healthcare providers have a plan for each check-up that was developed based on the needs of the average child. It works well for most families. The visitcan be much more valuable if you take an active role. Parents can also help monitor their child's growth and ask about any concerns or worrisome trends.Keep in mind that providers are watching for normal development, but they have only a short time to observe your baby. Speak up if you believe there may bea "red flag" or an issue with development that the provider hasn't spotted.

Visits for illness or problems
A parent's job is to give accurate information about an illness or problem to the provider. A provider's job is to know the options and explain them to afamily. Together, they can agree on the best plan of action. For an ear infection, for example, there are choices about whether or not to use antibiotics,when to administer it, how quickly to start the medication, and even what to do if ear infections happen again. It all depends on what works best for thatchild and that family. The key is always the partnership between parents and providers.

A partnership for the future
As you choose a healthcare provider for your child, keep in mind that this person would be a partner in decisions. You'll certainly want someone with whomyou feel comfortable and who respects you as a parent.

A word of caution:some providers have been trained to use a more traditional approach, so ask right away how a given provider feels about partnering and sharing decisions.

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