Illnesses and symptoms

How do I find a paediatrician?

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Source: iStock / SeventyFour

Children experience health issues differently to adults. For this reason, a paediatrician must have the specific skills required to deal with children.

How do I find a paediatrician?

Some regions of Switzerland are experiencing a shortage of paediatricians. It’s therefore a good idea to start looking for a paediatrician before the last trimester of pregnancy. Your birth hospital can help you with your search. Your family doctor, gynaecologist or midwife may also be able to make some recommendations. Alternatively, you can use the Comparis medical directory to search for paediatricians that are still accepting patients.

Look for a paediatrician with the specialist medical title “child and adolescent medicine” and appropriate history of continuing education. Assistant physicians in their final year of study are also a good option. Ideally, the paediatrician’s practice should be easily accessible by public transport or car. If you can't find a paediatrician near where you live, you may need to extend your search to the next biggest town or the area where you work.

What makes a good paediatrician?

It's not enough just to have a nice, child-friendly waiting room. A good paediatrician has excellent empathy skills. This includes an age-appropriate communication style, sensitivity and a good way with children. The level of trust between a child and their paediatrician affects the behaviour of the child and the success of treatment and therapies.

A good paediatrician:

  • takes time and pays attention to the child
  • is patient and inspires trust
  • answers questions from parents and children knowledgeably and thoroughly
  • talks to the parent or accompanying adult, but to the child as well
  • takes the concerns and fears of the child seriously
  • explains things in a precise, age-appropriate and easy-to-understand way
  • understands the child's personality and adapts their approach accordingly
  • if in doubt, refers your child to a hospital or specialist

How should a paediatric practice be organized?

  • If your child needs to be seen urgently, the practice will give you the earliest possible appointment.
  • Waiting times are short so that your child does not become nervous in the waiting room.
  • The practice facilities are child-friendly.
  • Contact persons are available outside opening hours.
  • You have no trouble contacting the practice by telephone.
  • The practice team is friendly and helpful.

My child is afraid of injections

Injections are a source of stress for many children. The way the paediatrician uses eye and physical contact plays an important part here. The presence of a parent, distractions, child-appropriate explanations and a local anaesthetic can also help reduce fear.

What you can do to minimize fear surrounding injections

  • The doctor should be calm and matter-of-fact, the environment quiet and functional.
  • Parents can use soothing words and physical closeness to reduce their child's fear.
  • Explain to the child that vaccinations protect against disease.
  • Be honest with your child – don’t make false or misleading statements (e.g. “It’s not that bad”).
  • Afternoon appointments are a good time for vaccinations as children sleep more easily afterwards.

What is the difference between a paediatrician and a child and adolescent psychiatrist?

Although paediatricians are not trained to treat mental-health conditions, they often diagnose them. They then refer such patients to a specialist such as a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

Child and adolescent psychiatrists in Switzerland

What is the role of a school doctor?

School doctors do not replace paediatricians but help with preventive check-ups in the interests of protecting both pupils and schools in general. School medical services are organized at cantonal level. Their main purpose is to test sight and hearing and check weight and vaccination status. Sometimes questionnaires are used to screen for other health issues. Some cantons also offer educational psychology services.

Who else can I consult with regard to my child’s health?

Depending on your family’s circumstances and the age of your child, there are other organizations and professionals who can offer help. It's often worth calling the relevant Telmed provider before visiting a doctor. In the case of family or mental health issues, you can also obtain information from Pro Juventute, helplines like elternnotruf.ch and KiSpiPhone (children’s hospital), and advisory services such as fuerdaskind.ch and the Swiss parent advisory association (Mütter- und Väterberatung).

Paediatricians in Switzerland

Accounting for 5% of all doctors, paediatrics – or child and adolescent medicine – is one of the largest medical disciplines in Switzerland. Women account for 63% of paediatricians. There is roughly one paediatrician per 1,000 inhabitants (source: Swiss Medical Association (FMH)).

Paediatricians in Switzerland