Age and Sex
Even after you have found your perfect doctor, this does not mean the search is over forever. As your children grow and mature, they might develop preferences of their own. For instance, they might decide they prefer either a male or female physician. It is not as simple as matching up the gender of your child with the doctor of the same gender. You might be surprised to learn, for instance, that your adolescent son would rather have a female than a male physician.
The gender of the physician is most relevant when it comes to certain types of exams. As you can imagine, it might be somewhat awkward for a teenage girl to go to a male doctor for problems relating to her breasts or reproductive organs. Similarly, some boys might be uncomfortable with a female doctor when they are visiting the office for issues concerning their private parts. All these must be taken into consideration.
When to Switch
How do you know when to choose another doctor if your child doesn't come up and tell you directly? It may seem obvious, but the best way is to ask your child. The best time to ask is when your child has reached the age of ten or so. Most children of this age are opinionated enough to want to make certain choices in their lives. You cannot assume your children will raise this issue on their own, as they might not be aware that they have the option of choosing or changing doctors unless you present it to them.
Age of the Doctor
This is a tricky area of discussion. Parents often believe that young doctors lack the clinical experience of older physicians. On the flip side, others worry that older doctors may not keep up with the latest medical advances and changing treatment guidelines. Even though there might be a grain of truth in this concern, either one of these judgments is unfair in most circumstances.
While the age of the doctor is worth considering, it is arguably one of the least important factors in choosing a physician. If you feel very comfortable with a doctor, it's probably best to stick with her no matter how old or young she may be. A good doctor is hard to find, and a good doctor who works well with you is even harder to find.
For any physician to become an independent practitioner, he must go through years of residency training, during which he practices medicine under the strict supervision of experienced senior physicians. By the time he finishes residency, he has been taking care of patients for many years and making his own medical decisions. The intensity of this training process ensures that no one finishes the program without garnering enough experience to confidently practice medicine independently.
On the other end of the age scale, there is another system that ensures that older physicians do not fall behind in learning up-to-date medical technology. All physicians are required to attend educational seminars regularly, and all major hospitals require their doctors to submit proof that they have attended a certain number of these meetings. In addition, in order to maintain certification in a medical specialty such as pediatrics, the law usually mandates that practitioners take a recertification examination every seven years to keep their license active. Through this vigorous set of checks and balances, the standard of medical care in this country is always upheld.
At the same time, it would be wrong to say that the age of the physician should never be considered as a factor when you're choosing your doctor. Your child may feel more comfortable with either a younger or older physician, based on your past experience. Commonsense considerations also play a part here. For instance, it is probably not a good idea to select a doctor who is scheduled to retire within the next six months.