The first time I had to ‘fire’ a care giver for Mia, was the hardest.

It was her paediatrician, a well-loved doctor from our region who was recommended to us by good friends and neighbours.

It wasn’t that this doctor was bad. 

But they clearly were not the right fit for us. 

We just did not click. 

Paediatric doctors and therapists are a special breed of caregiver who not only need to mesh with the child patient, they also need to gain the trust of the parent. 

In our case, I did not feel that this doctor took my concerns seriously. 

That was the deal-breaker for me.

I admit, taking on a patient with a rare diagnosis throws a wrench into making clinical judgements, or basing a diagnosis on sound experience. 

A medically-fragile child or one with a rare diagnosis doesn’t always respond to therapies and medications, or testing for that matter in a way that can easily be interpreted. 

That’s why trust between the parent and caregiver is that much more important.

After test-driving many doctors, specialists, and therapists, I’ve come up with my top five rules when it comes to selecting the right care giver for my daughter.

1. Dont be afraid to trust your instincts

The first couple of times our original paediatrician shrugged off some important issues that I brought up, it made me nervous and left me feeling unsettled. 

I left appointments feeling uncertain and stressed, instead of reassured and calm. 

Those were important early warning signs, but in the confusing world of parent-doctor relationships, I was still finding my feet as a first-time mom.

2. Watch how your child reacts

Sometimes the best indicator for patient-parent-doctor compatibility is how your child reacts to the given situation. 

In our case, Mia is very sensitive to my stress level and because I was not feeling confident at her doctor’s appointments, she mirrored my distress.

3. Find someone who listens to you and works with you as a team

Our current paediatrician treats me as an equal.

There is no doctor-over-parent hierarchy. 

This doctor values my opinion and listens closely when I offer up my concerns.

4. Search for someone who is willing to think outside the box

With a rare diagnosis, multiple medical issues, or a special needs diagnosis, you sometimes need to get creative and a bit more aggressive in treatment than in typical cases. 

A doctor or therapist who is open to trying new therapeutic methods or going an alternative route that they feel they can answer to, is definitely a keeper.

5. Look for someone who knows when to consult with a specialist or make a referral

A doctor or therapist who knows their professional limits and is confident enough to ask a colleague for a second opinion, demonstrates the right mixture of expertise and humility that makes for a good care giver. 

This doesn’t mean that they should be farming your child out to specialists only. 

If you find that you doctor is constantly second-guessing themselves by running unnecessary tests or making extra rounds of referrals, then that should also be a sign to question the relationship.

These rules work well, not just for medical care givers such as your paediatrician, specialist surgeon, or physical therapist, they also can be easily applied in the evaluation of your relationships with child care, respite nurses, and teachers.

Finding the right doctor is definitely not a one-size-fits-all situation. 

Even between special needs families, you will find one family that loves a particular doctor and the next one feels quite differently. 

You know your child, and you know what you, as a parent need and expect out of the patient-parent-doctor relationship. 

Don’t settle for second best.

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