*This post first appeared on The PediaBlog on March 23, 2016.


Choosing A Pediatrician – Part 3


Dr. Joe Aracri — Greentree


Here is some more advice about how to choose a pediatrician from some Pediatric Alliance doctors.


“When I was looking for a pediatrician for my own child when I moved to the Pittsburgh area, I asked friends and family who they used or recommended. Besides the pediatrician being board certified, it was important to me that he/she communicated well and helped me to feel at ease. Parents should feel comfortable asking every question and sharing every concern they have with the pediatrician.”

— Dr. Elizabeth Cutrell, Jefferson Hills


“Parents should ask: ‘Am I, within reason, going to be able to see the same doctor at every visit to build trust and rapport?’”

— Dr. Ray O’Toole, Chartiers/McMurray


“– Location, location, location! It is important to pick a practice that is convenient for you regarding its locale.

— Do they have a sick and well waiting area?

— Do they require immunizations at that practice? We don’t want little Joey coughing up measles on little Freddie. A practice that requires immunizations benefits everyone.

— Do they have an electronic health record (EHR) and, more importantly, a patient portal? Today these are both becoming gold standards for medical documentation and physician-patient communication. The portal allows parents to schedule some visits online, look up health and growth parameters from home, and receive updated immunization records anytime with a mouse click.

— Word of mouth: If a family that you trust in your neighborhood recommends a practice, it is reasonable to take a look at that practice.

— Do they give antibiotics over the phone? The answer to this question should be “no” (99.9% of the time).

— Who do I get to speak with in the middle of the night? Can I talk to my physician or a nurse from my practice, or, am I speaking to a nurse triage service who doesn’t know me and my particular issues with my children/family?

— Lastly, and most importantly: Spend some time going and interviewing different pediatricians, checking out their offices for yourself. Get a feel for the office. Is it clean, are people getting along, does it seem organized, can I meet with the pediatrician? (There should be no charge for this meeting.)”

— Dr. Damian Ternullo, St. Clair


“One of the smarter things a parent can do is discern what special expertise a pediatrician might have. Some pediatricians take an interest in a specific area , and then learn everything they can about it.

For example, my own experiences have led me to develop a special interest in breastfeeding. My wife breastfed all seven of our children for at least two years each. There were occasional minor difficulties with each baby, and those have helped me appropriately advise nursing mothers I see with similar troubles. But, she had major difficulty with our second baby. I was surprised at the time that the response of most doctors was to wean. It was those responses that spurred me to learn more about the science of breastfeeding.

Since then, I have become a member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. The Academy is a worldwide organization of physicians dedicated to the promotion, protection, and support of breastfeeding. Educating patients and other doctors about breastfeeding is our primary goal. I have also had the chance to serve as President of the Allegheny County Health Department’s Breastfeeding Coalition. These experiences help me take much better care of the nursing mother/baby dyads whom I now have the privilege of serving.”

— Dr. Brian Donnelly, North Hills


“Parents ask me this question if they are unhappy with their current provider or practice. And I give them my advice based on my extensive experience in interacting with pediatricians. We are fortunate to have excellent doctors in the North community, therefore choices are multiple. Specific geographic reasons always play a significant role, but never the decisive one. I always try to match patient’s needs with doctors I like and trust, and if memory serves me well, parents are very rarely disappointed with recommendation I made.”

— Dr. Sergei Belenky, Allergy, Asthma and Immunology



We’ll have more responses from our pediatricians on The PediaBlog tomorrow.


Read our 4-part series on “Choosing A Pediatrician” beginning here.