Pediatricians and Ob-Gyns Can Work Together to Guide Your Health Journey
Mar 08, 2021 Nicole Levine
Pediatricians and obstetrician-gynecologists come into our lives and see their jobs overlap at particularly exciting and vulnerable times, such as the birth of a child or a young woman learning to care for her reproductive health.
A positive working relationship between doctors in these disciplines can greatly benefit patients. Pediatrician Sharon Wirawan, MD, and OB-GYN Itai Ronen, MD, share how working side by side at Cedars-Sinai’s Playa Vista medical offices helps their patients—and is fruitful for them, too.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CHOOSE YOUR MEDICAL SPECIALTY?
SW: I loved my pediatrician when I was growing up because he would always give us See’s candy. The good stuff! I wanted to give kids candy and make them happy. Then I got really interested in science and medicine. Throughout my training, I kept an open mind, but pediatrics was the best fit for me. I love getting to know families, seeing kids grow and watching parents mature into parenthood.
IR: I love being an OB-GYN because of the long-lasting relationship with patients and the chance to see them through different phases of their lives. It’s the perfect combination of everything I like: office visits, visiting them in the hospital and even offering surgical care if they need it.
DO YOU OFTEN WORK TOGETHER?
IR: Almost every day. We’re a family here. The set-up is special because we’re sitting right next to each other and getting to know each other. We have lunches together and have a strong emphasis on teamwork. It works out well for families because our office can be a kind of home base for their care. They can get vaccinations here, imaging if they need it, and urgent care. Because we know each other well, we can often refer them to a doctor who is going to be a good match for them.
HOW DOES THIS BENEFIT YOUR PATIENTS?
SW: I love being right next door to the obstetricians. It’s great that they’re so accessible if I have a question—or a patient has a question. For example, a couple that already had four children was considering having more. They wanted to know if a fifth pregnancy would pose a greater risk to them, especially if they ended up with twins or triplets. I wasn’t sure, so I was able to consult with Dr. Ronen to get his expert opinion. Sometimes, we have teenage girls with heavy period bleeding. If we’ve already tried a contraceptive pill that isn’t helping enough and want to try something else, I can get my colleagues in OB-GYN to weigh in on the best choices.
IR: Recently, a patient who had just delivered had an appointment for her baby. She had some concerns and questions about her own care, and it was easy for her to just come down the hall and be seen. We’re not just easily accessible to each other but to our patients, too.
SW: It’s also great when it’s time for us to provide referrals. We know these doctors. So, I can honestly say, "I know you’re going to love this person." We have a feel for whether our patients will click with one of our colleagues and make a good fit.
Finding the Right Doctor For You
- Have a meet-and-greet appointment. Start meeting pediatricians in the third trimester of pregnancy. Personalities matter. You will see your pediatrician frequently during the first year of your baby’s life.
- Ask about office hours and the on-call policy. Make sure the doctor’s office schedule works for your family. Illnesses and accidents happen outside business hours, too. Ask who will help you with non-emergency medical issues after hours.
- Build a lasting relationship. An OB-GYN is often a point person in women’s healthcare, providing preventive care such as cancer screenings along with guidance on sexually transmitted infections, reproductive care, prenatal care and menopause management. Choose a doctor you would like to have in your life for the long term.
- Comfort is key. OB-GYNs handle intimate issues that can make patients feel vulnerable. Being comfortable to ask any question, even one you feel is embarrassing, is important.
- Ask a doctor you trust for recommendations. A physician who knows you well may know a specialist who has a philosophy and demeanor that work for you, in addition to excellent credentials.