What to Ask when Choosing a Pediatrician

Your child’s pediatrician will play an important role in her life from the day she is born. You will want to find someone you like, trust, and can depend on to listen to your concerns and always help you make the right decisions for your child’s health. Most pediatricians are available for prenatal interviews, to help you in your decision prior to baby’s birth. Asking the right questions will make it easier to narrow down the choices.

Where to Start

Choosing doctors to interview out of a phone book is both tedious and overwhelming. Rather than wasting your time, ask for recommendations from family, friends and your obstetrician. You can then shorten this list by checking it against your insurance company’s list to cut out any doctors not covered under your plan. You might also want to strike off the list any doctor who lives too far away from your home.

Questions to Ask About the Office

When you call to make an appointment with the doctor, you can get a few important questions out of the way over the phone. Important general things to know about the office:

  • What are the office hours, and do they offer any evening or weekend appointments?
  • Does the office have separate waiting rooms for well and sick children?
  • How far in advance do they require well-child visits to be made, and how quickly are they generally able to schedule a sick child?
  • Do they offer a 24-hour on call physician?
  • Do they have advice nurses available for questions, and will you also be able to speak to the doctor over the phone should you need to?
  • Do they have plentiful parking, and is it free?

When talking with the staff member who answers to phone you can learn a lot about the practice. If you don’t find them friendly and helpful over the phone, they aren’t likely to be that way in person. Think of this phone call as an additional screening tool.

Questions to Ask the Pediatrician

When you head out to meet with a potential doctor for your baby, it’s a good idea to write down a list of the questions you would like to ask. Think of questions that will help you to determine whether or not you and the doctor are on the same page when it comes to decisions about your child’s health. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is the doctor’s view on topics like breastfeeding versus formula feeding, alternate vaccination schedules, circumcision and natural or alternative treatments?
  • What type of continuing education do they pursue to keep up on current research and treatments?
  • How long have they been practicing?
  • What hospital(s) are they affiliated with?
  • Do they generally come to the hospital to see the baby at birth or will you come to the office for the initial visit?
  • Will your child always see his own doctor, or will other doctors at the practice be involved in his care as well?

You can learn a lot from this initial visit to a potential pediatrician; not just from the answers to your questions, but from the doctor’s demeanor as well. Is the doctor friendly, responsive, and open to your questions? Did you feel you were heard and taken seriously? The way a doctor responds to you in this initial interview will likely be the same manner they display in visits with your child. If you didn’t feel comfortable, felt rushed or that your questions weren’t important, keep looking.

Finding the right doctor for your child might take some time and effort, but knowing you can trust this person with your child’s health is well worth it.

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