Finding a Pediatrician

When it comes to the health of your children, finding a pediatrician you can trust can truly set your mind at ease. Two of our pediatricians, Dr. Tina Scott-Mordhorst and Dr. Shannon Godsil weigh in on the questions you should be asking to help put you on the path to finding a pediatrician who is right for you and your family.

Topic Breakdown

1:13 – Clinics under the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center umbrella
2:46 – Finding the pediatrician you’re most comfortable with
6:11 – Questions to ask when looking for a pediatrician
9:05 – A pediatrician is your child’s medical home
11:18 – COVID and creativity in pediatrics
14:43 – Keeping up with pediatric care during the pandemic
18:21 – Building relationships between pediatricians and families

Transcript

Dr. Tina Scott-Mordhorst: I’m Tina Scott-Mordhorst. I’m a pediatrician in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. I will let Dr. Godsil introduce herself.

Dr. Shannon Godsil: I’m Dr. Shannon Godsil. I’m a general pediatrician at Children’s Physicians Val Verde, and excited to have this conversation about why we’re wanting to be your pediatrician.

Clinics under the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center umbrella

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: I think that brings up a really good point. We’re both employed by Children’s Physicians and Children’s Physicians clinics. We’re fortunate enough to be in an organization where there are 14 clinics scattered throughout the metro area, as well as Council Bluffs, Kearney, Plattsmouth. We have the advantage of having that Children’s roof over all of our clinics, which demonstrates that, quite honestly, when you’re looking for a pediatrician, you don’t have to really look that far from home for most people.

Dr. Godsil: I completely agree. I think we’re really lucky that we serve so much of the Omaha metro and surrounding areas. And like you said, that we have that connection with the hospital, with Children’s Hospital & Medical Center. I have had so many parents that feel so reassured knowing that if we have a concern, needing to see a specialist, having to be admitted to the hospital — they know that I have a relationship with the docs that are over there. That I have direct communication with them. And that I can see through our electronic medical records exactly what’s going on. So I think that’s huge for families.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Agreed, agreed completely. And don’t you also think — it’s really nice because of not just our location, but the — I mean, there’s quite a few of us pediatricians within that organization. And aside from getting along with the specialists, we all get along with each other.

Finding the pediatrician you’re most comfortable with

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: But we’re all different personalities. So when you’re looking for a pediatrician…

Dr. Godsil: That’s huge, yeah. I think — I was really lucky that I grew up with a pediatrician who I absolutely loved. I feel like my family felt like he was part of the team, he was part of the family, that we were all on the same page when it came to what the next steps were with our care. You’re right, there’s a personality type for everybody.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: There is.

Dr. Godsil: I think that it’s so important for parents to know that there’s options out there, and that they should feel good when they do make that choice.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Yeah. If you work with someone that you don’t feel like you’re able to work with, or you’re working against, you need to keep looking. You have to kind of — we’re talking about your kids when you’re looking for a pediatrician, right? So it should be someone that you’re comfortable going to and comfortable telling them what’s happening in your home or with your child, or what your concerns are, without feeling self-conscious about them. Because it’s kind of terrifying to parents sometimes.

Dr. Godsil: Absolutely! And then, when you’re talking about first-time parents, who, I always tell them, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” So I would rather you come to me and ask the questions vs. going down a rabbit hole on Google. And so I think that, yeah, I think that having that relationship early on, the moment that baby comes, is huge.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Right. Well and even before, right? So we do our get-to-know-you visits. We all do them. We’re all happy to do them. They’re fun visits to have. And really, parents should not hesitate to call different physicians, different clinics, and sit down and meet a handful of different providers and physicians, and see who do they feel the most comfortable with? That can start going anytime during pregnancy. Or if you’re new to an area.

Dr. Godsil: Right. And I agree. They are some of my favorite visits to have. I think that now, with COVID, we’ve been doing a lot more telehealth of those get-to-know-you’s. So if pregnant moms are worried about coming into an office where there potentially are sick kids, I’ve had a lot of families who are really grateful that we have that as an option, and still get all their questions answered. And then hopefully, get an idea of who I am as a provider, too.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Right. It’s — I think it’s really important to use that as a new parent, a new member to a community. And I think — I don’t want parents to ever think that they’re inconveniencing us by even asking us to do that. It’s a great opportunity to get to meet providers. It is, it’s fun, I enjoy it.

Dr. Godsil: It’s so fun. Because like you said — if you, all of a sudden, you decide, “Hey, this is my pediatrician,” then you realize that the next steps are going to be so much easier. Because that — just having that relationship is critical. I mean, we are part of your family. We’re — especially these early weeks. So I just think that having that feeling early on in your pregnancy has got to take a lot of weight off of your shoulders.

Questions to ask when looking for a pediatrician

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: It does. There are obviously — there are things that you want to ask or you want to…I mean, we — because I do talk as much as I do — I think that sometimes I like to help facilitate conversation. So many times, they’re so sweet. They’re like, “Well, my sister told me that I should do this, but I don’t even know what to ask.”

Dr. Godsil: Yes! They’ll be like, “I have no questions. Sooooo…” And I’m like, “That’s okay, that’s okay!” So a lot of times, I kind of help them. And things you do want them to know. I think it’s incredibly important to ask a pediatrician or provider if they’re certified. So for pediatrics — we’re board-certified in pediatrics. We are trained in pediatrics. It’s all we do. Kids are not just tiny adults.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: No, no, no.

Dr. Godsil: Nope! As a matter of fact, I do know children that sometimes act more adult than adults, but they’re not tiny adults. And so I think it’s important to ask if we’re board-certified, and that’s information I always give. Hours —

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Of course! Children’s Physicians clinics — most have extended hours, Saturday hours. I think it’s important to ask how phone calls happen after hours. Because a lot of times — I don’t think, particularly new parents, understand that they can pick up that phone at 7:00 at night when their kid is screaming and they don’t know what to do, and ask one of our triage nurses. And we’re going to get that information.

So there are — I tend to lead conversation when they come in. Because a lot of times, you just don’t know what to ask.

Dr. Godsil: Absolutely, and I think it’s always a good question to ask, “Do you speak specific languages? Do you have certain interests?” I totally agree that asking if they’re board-certified is huge when it comes to pediatric care, because there’s just so much that changes with medicine, especially with pediatric medicine, and now with COVID. It is really important —

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: It is.

Dr. Godsil: — that your doctor stays up to date.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: It is!

Dr. Godsil: I do think I have had a lot of patients ask about how they can get a hold of me. And so you’re so right. The after-hours triage line is huge. Being able to send a Children’s Connect, which is our email service. Children’s Connect has allowed patients not only to schedule some of their own visits, but send me pictures, get access to immunization records, get access to some labs and diagnostic stuff that we might have had a conversation about previously. So I think having access like that to your pediatrician is huge. And different. It’s keeping up with the times.

A pediatrician is your child’s medical home

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Well, and then that lends itself to — I love how you pull that all together about all of the things that we do. Because we do. We consider ourselves — we’re all medical homes. We’re certified to be medical homes. It’s — I think it’s nice to tell families that we are.

And it’s our job, then, to help them manage their child’s care. Not just the 15 minutes they’re in our office. We, as you said earlier, we have relationships with the subspecialists. We reach out to the subspecialists. We have those conversations. And then, we can be the driver in their healthcare a little bit so that they kind of have a place to come when they have questions or concerns. Kind of like the repository for their healthcare.

And quite frankly, I’m sure you are the same that I am, I have interest in their dental care. We have interest in how they’re doing in school. So it’s not — it’s really more than just their actual medical needs that we, as pediatricians, have our hands in. That’s all part of being their medical home.

Dr. Godsil: Right, you’re like the secondary mayor of Plattsmouth — you have an idea of what goes on in the schools, you have the resources to say, “Hey, here’s some of the pediatric dentists in the area. Here’s some of the counselors and therapists that I’ve worked with in the past.”

And I think what’s nice, again, about having the amount of offices that we do around the metro, that each of us have our own little pockets. I don’t live in Papillion La Vista, Bellevue area. But I’ve become very well-knowledgeable about the school systems and what we have to offer in the area.

What’s great, too, about Children’s is we all have our own social workers. We have behavioral health that’s associated with each of the offices. Our lactation specialists that work with us. Having those resources directly tied to the office, in particular, is amazing.

COVID and creativity in pediatrics

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: It is. I think everyone has — particularly through COVID — has stepped up. And so much of it is being offered over telehealth, which is fantastic because those are services that maybe dabbled in it initially. And I think that that serves families really well. Because not all families can make it to an appointment at a certain time. But if we go to where they’re at, it’s quite helpful and has been very well-received, in regards to not only what we do, but in regards to what behavioral health is doing. I mean, it’s been — it’s kind of fun to watch.

I’ve done this a long time and it’s been fun to watch how everyone steps up and works together. Just to go back to the fact that we are the medical home, and so you can not only participate in it, but you can sit back and watch it a little bit, too.

Dr. Godsil: Right, oh yeah. You’re right — COVID has really pushed us to get creative with certain things. I think your office is similar, that we’ve tried to split our well times to our infectious times so that families feel comfortable knowing that when they are coming for a well visit that we’re keeping the potential of COVID sick patients at a later time in the day. They’re not sharing the same lobby space. Things are getting sanitized in between each visit. I’ve seen — my nurses have worked so hard to make sure that everybody feels — and I know yours are the same — just making sure that everybody feels comfortable, and that all these precautions are being taken care of. Because it is, it can be a super scary time right now.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Yeah, it can be. I think — I feel like we have, we don’t have all the answers to this by any means. We’re all learning as we go. Which, thankfully, we’re very motivated to take care of kids so we’re all very motivated to do that. But again, yeah, we’ve gotten really creative. I have to say — everyone that I’ve talked to within Children’s Physicians — they do want to serve their families. They want to step up and do what’s right for them, and make this a little bit less scary for them.

Dr. Godsil: Yeah, you’re right. I think I’ve had — everyone in our office, and I know you like — we all offer telehealth visits. Whether it’s for behavioral concerns, or, like you said, the get-to-know-you’s. We’ve done — and that was something that was always on the table. But now that we have it for families, I think they really like the option. Because like you said, I’ve had some college students who are 500 or 1,000 miles away, and do a follow-up visit with me. It’s really nice to be able to have that option for them.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: It is, it is. It’s been a — like you said, it was kind of there, but families were a little hesitant. I know we were all just a little bit hesitant because it just was different than the care that we’ve typically given. But there are definitely certain areas where it has been fantastic. And likely, I suspect we’ll see it continue on.

Keeping up with pediatric care during the pandemic

And it’s — we have kind of separated out our wells and our sicks in an attempt to keep our healthy kids healthy. And I think — I hope we’re doing a good job at relaying that to families.

Because I don’t want them to delay necessary vaccines. I don’t want them to delay getting care for their kids. I don’t want them to — even those visits where they’re not vaccine-related visits, we’re still assessing their growth and development. We can still get them the resources that they may need so that their children are staying on track developmentally. And so that when they are school-age, they are school-ready. And we’re not losing ground.

Even for our school-age kids right now, their healthcare visits are such an important visit for them for us to touch base and see how they’re doing through all of this. And can we offer them any resources?

Dr. Godsil: Yeah, you’re so right. I was — we’ve talked ad nauseam about how we’re so worried about vaccine-preventable diseases starting to rear their ugly head if people aren’t making sure that they are still getting all of these visits scheduled. I know, especially on the onset of COVID here in the US, that it was really scary. But yeah, I think we’ve done all that we can to really have families feel confident that we’re trying to keep them healthy. And one of those ways to keep them healthy is keeping them vaccinated. Like you said — even if they’re not getting vaccines, those well-visits are critical to make sure that we’re tracking them on their growth curve. To make sure they’re meeting all of those milestones. And like you said, mental health concerns have been —

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Huge.

Dr. Godsil: — huge. It’s been such a concern in the last few months. And just those check-in times with my school-age kids and teenagers has been critical right now.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Agreed. And there are things that — I think because we are trained the way we are, and it is what we do all day every day, that sometimes we can ask a kid in school how they’re doing in a way that they are really going to open up and tell us.

Whereas — I’ve had — even parents — this is such a tough time for everyone. That I think sometimes they don’t exactly know how to ask their kid if they’re doing okay. Or they assume because they’re a child and all their physical needs are being met, that they’re doing okay. Whereas, you know, we sit down and we talk to these kids, and we talk to them and we may phrase a question such that we’re going to get the information from the child that leads us to go, “Well, maybe they’re not doing as well through this as they could. Maybe we could help with that.”

Dr. Godsil: Right, yeah. I think a lot of the times I’ve seen kids who are manifesting some of their worries, their stress, in other ways. Whether it be with pain — abdominal pain, headaches — and so I’ve had families who are concerned about this stuff. We dig a little deeper. And again, with our training, we know that kids can manifest their worries with real pain and real symptoms. That’s been really eye-opening, I think, for a lot of families. Seeing that too. This is something we can address, but maybe in a different way than they expected.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Right, and then we can identify it and get them some help. At least follow up and know that it’s there.

Building relationships between pediatricians and families

Dr. Godsil: Yeah, I think that, again, just going back to the kind of relationship I know I had with my pediatrician, that I just feel like, again, should not only be a listener, but also an active participant in your child’s health.

Those — there’s just so many resources out there now. Everything sometimes seems really readily available, but there’s a lot of misinformation out there. So having a relationship with your pediatrician, where you feel like you’re feeling listened to — but also you’re having a discussion and also that you’re getting options — is huge. And that your pediatrician is your advocate for the needs that you have. It’s just — it’s a hard — sometimes, it’s hard, like you said, to find that right away. But again, you can find it. Because here in town, we have plenty of options.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: We have options! And to go back to how you started all of this, right? You said your pediatrician was like a member of your family. That’s how important that is. It made an impact on you. And that’s what pediatricians want to do. They want to build those relationships. Not with just the children, but with the families. Because that’s how we can best serve them. And quite frankly, on a very personal level, it’s very rewarding for pediatricians to be invited into a family that way.

Dr. Godsil: It is. I feel so incredibly lucky, especially through all of this with COVID, that I have the families that I do. That I have the coworkers that I do. That I have this opportunity to be a pediatrician. Because it really kept things really relative to me, that this is exactly what I wanted to do. I was lucky enough to go to medical school here and train here, and follow people like you, and be that —

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: How fun it is and how great it is! It is!

Dr. Godsil: I remember being your resident and being like, “Man, she knows everything about these families.” That’s a great relationship to have. And like, “She doesn’t even have to look at the notes because she goes through in her mind everything that this family has gone through. And what a huge advocate Dr. Scott is to this entire town.” And that was all I wanted as a pediatrician.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: And look! When you’re a medical student or resident, looking back, and go, “How do you do that?” — then you do it for a little while, right? And all of a sudden, you’re like, “So that’s how it happens. Because it’s just important to you.” So that all of a sudden — I feel like you’re finding this now. You know families, you know their history, you know their stories. I have residents and students say to me all the time, as I’m sure you do now, “Well, how do you do that so quickly?”

Well, I don’t have to ask. I don’t have to ask the back story. I know the back story. I was there for the back story. It is — again, very selfishly, it is such a wonderful experience to be involved on a level like that with a family. It makes it great to give them good news, it makes it bearable to give them bad news. We get to be there for all of those ups and downs in their family’s lives.

Dr. Godsil: It is, it’s great. It’s absolutely one of the greatest gifts. When I get the hugs at the end of the day, when I get the holiday cards during this time of the year — it’s just — it’s so — it’s like, circle of life. It’s amazing.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Circle of life is watching you enjoy what you do so much after having worked with you as a student and resident. You are awesome.

Dr. Godsil: Aw, no, you are. So thank you!

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Thank you. And thanks for visiting with me today. I haven’t seen you in a while!

Dr. Godsil: I know! It’s so good to see you. I know it’s virtually, but yeah, I appreciate it so much. I hope that our families know how much we love them and how much we really want them to find the pediatrician for them.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: Absolutely. Enough so that we’ll help them.

Dr. Godsil: Oh, absolutely.

Dr. Scott-Mordhorst: If we’re not your cup of tea, let me find someone who is.

Dr. Godsil: Exactly. I love that. Thanks so much for listening!

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