Some teens will happily remain with their pediatrician through the college years. Others will want to change doctors—perhaps as a way of proclaiming their autonomy and maturity. A number of pediatricians have created separate waiting areas for their older patients, decorated with posters giving important health messages to youth. You may also find yourself in the market for a new pediatrician because your employer has switched insurance companies or your current doctor is leaving a managed-care plan that requires members to stay within its network of approved practitioners.
Whatever the reason, if you’re looking, a good place to start is the American Academy of Pediatrics. Other potential sources of recommendations include the department of pediatrics at nearby medical centers, your state’s medical society, the school nurse, physicians and of course family, friends, neighbors and coworkers.
Once you’ve assembled a list of names, call each prospective pediatrician’s office to schedule a get-acquainted session. Invite your teen to accompany you. Meeting face to face gives you insight into the pediatrician’s overall philosophy and manner. We’d suggest preparing a list of questions beforehand, such as:
- How long have you been a pediatrician?
- Are you board certified through the American Board of Pediatrics?
- Are you a member of the group that subspecializes, or has an interest in, adolescent medicine?
- Approximately what proportion of your practice consists of teenagers?
- What is your policy regarding confidentiality?
- Is there anything that you would like to know about my family?
Don’t hesitate to address any other concerns that come to mind. Afterward, discuss your impressions with your spouse (and your teenager, if she was present). Did the pediatrician answer your questions clearly, thoughtfully and thoroughly? Was she a good listener? Above all, did you feel comfortable talking to her, and can you imagine her establishing a rapport with your son or daughter?