How to Find a Good Match
Everyone in the diabetes world has their own opinion on pediatric endocrinologists. Who's good? Who's bad? Who cares? Who should be avoided? The best thing you can do when selecting a team is simple: Don't take anyone else's opinions to heart. Choosing a good team is rather like choosing a good teacher or even a good mate. Everyone has their own quirks, their own likes and dislikes. Most parents or caregivers have had that experience when another parent tells them to steer clear of a certain teacher, only to have their child adore that teacher. Relationships are subjective and organic. Trusting your instincts will make a difference.
Some families are lucky; the endocrinology team that treats their child in the hospital at diagnosis just feels right. If this is the case, you've hit the jackpot. Even if other well-intentioned folks try to tell you that the best place is somewhere else, go with your gut and let this relationship continue.
If your child was not treated in a place with a full pediatric endocrinology team, you'll need to begin your search immediately. How do you find one? Although the Web offers you lists and locations at the touch of a key, you'll need to do more than that. First, set your standards.
Keep in mind here that you are the employer and that the team is, for the sake of simplicity, employed by you. Don't hesitate to ask any questions that come to mind before choosing a team.
What if the endocrinologist we like is a student?
Stick with her. All pediatric endocrinologist fellows are supported by attending doctors, and often, children click well with young hip students. Many families stick with fellows through their entire education and continue with them when they become attending physicians.
Questions may include but are not limited to the following:
How often will the pediatric endocrinologist personally see my child?
Is the support staff, such as the nutritionist and social worker, on site?
If the team is not at a hospital setting, what hospital affiliation do they have?
Does the team have live support available twenty-four hours a day?
What percentage of their patients has Type 1?
Asking these questions will help you get a general feel for what type of program it is and what type of support you can expect. In the beginning, be picky. For instance, if you are the type of parent who wants the endocrinologist herself to see your child at least twice a year, do not settle for a team that has your child meet always with the Certified Diabetes Educator. If you'll only feel comfortable with a team that answers calls twenty-four hours a day (and does not rely on an answering service that can leave you hanging for hours), keep searching until you find one, or until you've exhausted all options.
What's in a Name?
There are well-known names in every city that leave diabetes patients in awe. But a big name does not always mean it's your only smart choice. History can mean a lot in diabetes care, and you should pay attention to that. But a name itself does not make a quality program. Even when dealing with the most famous names, ask all the obvious questions. If you find a smaller, lesser-known pediatric diabetes program that offers everything you want and feels like the place for you, ignore the well-intentioned friends who will say things like, “Surely you're going to the Big Name Here center. Why would you go anywhere else?”
One good bonus to a program name that includes a hospital name is simple. Should your child ever be hospitalized, she'll be treated by the same team of doctors and nurses that treats her as an outpatient. There is value in that familiar situation.
Like everything else in diabetes and children, you know best what is right for you and your family. Trust your decisions. And remember, you can always change if you are unhappy or if circumstances change.