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Selecting a Specialist

Dr. Honeycutt with specialist

Your child is special, and your child's care should be too, especially when they are diagnosed with an illness or disorder that disrupts their childhood. When it comes to knowledge about the brain, spine and nervous system, you want doctors who are exceptional at what they do.

Care that goes beyond the expected

When you're choosing a specialist you want someone who's really going to go to bat for your child. While the neurological conditions in children, teens and young adults may have the same name as those in grownups, the approach to treatment may be very different. For starters, the nervous system is continually developing and requires extensive knowledge in pediatrics, as well as neurology. Choosing a pediatric neurological specialist ensures that your child has a doctor with unique training, both in your child's diagnosis and in treating that diagnosis specifically in kids, teens and right into adulthood.

Where do you start?

If your pediatrician recommends seeing a specialist, it's a good idea to check with your health plan to discuss your options. In most cases, your pediatrician will refer you to a specialist. He or she is familiar with your child, your family and your child's diagnosis and prognosis. Your pediatrician also knows which doctors specialize in your child's particular condition, who is up to date on the most advanced treatments and care, and whose approach is right for your child's specific symptoms and diagnosis. It is alright to ask for more than one recommendation to ensure that you are able to find the specialist who can best meet your child's and your family's needs.

Friends, family and even coworkers are good resources as well. Even if they don't have experience with your child's condition, they may know people who have gone through what you're experiencing. If there is a pediatric medical center near you, you may also want to check their website to learn more about the specialists there.

Once you have compiled a list of specialists you feel comfortable with, you will want to review them with your pediatrician and, when required, your health insurance plan administrator. In most cases, a referral is required from your pediatrician. Once you have determined which doctors to interview, it is good to prepare a list of questions to ask before making an interview appointment as well as during and after your appointment. You can use the questions we have provided below, add questions to it or make your own list. However you choose to do it, we recommend that you have them written down because it is a very stressful time and it's easy to forget the things you want to ask.

Frequently asked questions

Before your appointment you may speak with a staff member to learn basic information:

  • Is the specialist board-certified in pediatric neurology?
  • Does he or she treat your child's specific diagnosis?
  • Based on your child's diagnosis, will you need more than one type of specialist?
  • Is there a support group where you can talk to other parents whose children have the same diagnosis as your child?
  • Is there an affiliation with a neuroscience center?
  • How long has the doctor been in practice?
  • How many patients with your child's condition does the doctor treat each year?
  • Does the doctor have access to the most current research, technologies and treatments?
  • How easy is it to reach the doctor, nurse, and scheduler? Will you have after-hours and weekend access?
  • Will you have access to a patient portal?
  • Does the doctor consider the family as part of the health care team?
  • Will you be included in treatment and care decisions?
  • What if the neuroscience center is far from home? Is there a social services team to help with locating resources such as transportation, lodging and financial assistance?
  • Is your insurance plan accepted? If not, will they offer payment options?

During your clinic appointment you may want to ask the following questions:

  • What is my child's diagnosis?
  • What kind of treatment options are available to my child?
  • Are the side effects or long-term effects from the treatment?
  • Will my child need additional testing and what can we expect to learn from the testing?
  • Will there be side effects from the testing?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes that you recommend to improve my child's condition?

Questions to ask yourself:

  • During your appointment, did the doctor answer your questions?
  • How well did the doctor relate to your child?
  • Did he or she explain things in a way that you could understand?
  • Is this a doctor you feel confident in?

Again, these questions are a good starting point but please add any additional questions you may have that are important to you.

If at anytime you want more information or require other services to benefit your child, please notify a neurosciences team member. It is our goal to help keep things simple and remain helpful in our partnership of care.

We're here to help.

If your child has been diagnosed, you probably have lots of questions. We can help. If you would like to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices at 682-885-2500.