Somewhere between choosing the safest and best car seat, the seemingly hundreds of OB/midwife appointments, and making sure your registry is up to date, you ALSO need to find time to interview and select a pediatrician to whom you will entrust the medical care of your baby FOREVER. Or at least through adolescence.
Yes, I said interview.
Finding the right pediatrician for your family can be tricky. While it's a great idea to ask family, friends and other trusted parents for their opinions and recommendations, they are just that- opinions.
Doctors and nurses are human too. And sometimes different personalities just aren't a good fit and that's ok! Interviewing a prospective doctor or practice is the best way to ensure they are a good fit for your family's preferences.
So, what do you ask?
Before the interview, there are several factors to consider.
- First and foremost, is the office is accepting new patients? More specifically newborns, and are they accepting your particular insurance plan. Are your well visits and check ups covered? What is your co-pay?
- Do you want a large practice with multiple doctors or a solo provider? Do you need to see an MD, or would you prefer a PA or nurse practitioner?
- What distance are you comfortable traveling? For a well visit or check up? What about when your child is ill?
- What are the hours? Do you need evening and/or weekend hours or are you able to schedule all visits Monday through Friday 9 to 4?
This information can help you narrow down the list slightly. Once you have a list of doctors, call and ask about their interview/consultation policies. Most will be able to schedule an appointment just as they would schedule any other office visit. This will also help give you a sense of how busy their schedule may be; if you are able to get the particular Wednesday afternoon appointment two weeks from now that you wanted or if all of your options are in 3 months.
Here are some basic questions to first consider with your partner or family, then ask of your potential care providers.
- What are their opinions on the parenting choices that are important to you? This can include topics such as breastfeeding, formula feeding, bed sharing, co-sleeping, sleep training, intact or circumcision care, alternative or homeopathic medicine, antibiotics, immunization schedule and policies and more.
- What is your protocol for well check ups vs. sick visits? Is there a separate waiting/exam area for ill patients? Are well visits scheduled earlier in the day?
- How are after hours handled? Is there an on call number in case of questions/concerns? What is the after hours emergency protocol? At which local hospitals does the office/provider have privileges?
- How many care providers are in the office? Can check ups and sick visits be scheduled with our primary doctor or will we see whomever is available?
- Are labs, blood work and/or other diagnostic testing done in office or do you refer elsewhere?
- Are there alternative means of contacting a care provider? Voicemail? Email? Text or photo message? What is the typical response time for each?
- Do you have accessible digital patient records?
In addition to your interview questions, take some time to explore the office. Was the front office/reception staff helpful and polite? Was the waiting room clean and inviting? How long did you wait before you were seen? Were the waiting area, bathrooms, exam areas and office rooms clean? Did the staff and care providers respond positively and openly to your questions? Did you feel your opinions and concerns were heard?