For first time moms, finding a good pediatrician is always on the to-do list during the last few months before baby’s arrival. Everyone knows they have to do this but where do you begin? Today I want to share my process of finding a pediatrician and the questions to ask a pediatrician in an interview.
How to begin:
- First and foremost you want to go on your insurance provider’s website and search for pediatricians in your area. Print out this list.
- Get referrals from family and friends in your area about who they use and why they like/dislike them. Make sure their recommendations are on your insurance list!
- Consider drive time when choosing a pediatrician because you will be there a lot, especially in the beginning.
- Start doing some online research and read reviews about several doctors on your list.
- Narrow it down to 2-3 pediatricians and call to schedule interviews with them (about 8 weeks before due date).
- Compose your list ahead of time of questions to ask a pediatrician.
Now that you have your interviews scheduled, what questions do you ask a pediatrician in an interview? Here is my list and I hope it helps/gives you ideas!
1. Do you/will you come to the hospital when the baby is born to do an exam? If not, how soon should I make my appointment to bring my newborn in for their first office visit?
I had no idea doctors even did this but it depends on which hospital they are affiliated with. Unfortunately with my son we delivered at a different hospital so we just had the on-call pediatrician during our hospital stay. Most doctors tell you to call them when the baby is born and to come in a day or two after you leave the hospital.
2. What is your newborn appointment protocol? Is there a separate place we can wait when our baby is only a few months old and not yet vaccinated?
I include this in my list because this is what my pediatrician does and I think it’s so important since both of my kids are winter babies. They have us go right into an exam room when we arrive to avoid exposure to all of the sick kids in the office instead of waiting in the waiting room.
3. What are your hours? Are you open late during the week and do you have weekend hours? What is your after-hours procedure? Is there a doctor on-call? If an ER visit is necessary, which hospital(s) are you affiliated with?
This is an important one…infants/toddlers usually show first signs of sickness at night and it can be scary for first time moms. It was important for me to have piece of mind knowing an on-call doc was available during after-hours.
4. What is your typical wait time? Are there separate well/sick areas?
I don’t mind waiting if its because the doctor will take their time with me when it comes to be our turn.
5. What immunization schedule do you follow? Will you have a problem with an alternate schedule if I choose to do so?
We are all aware of the vaccine debate, and while I choose to vaccinate my son (mandatory immunizations only, no flu shot), I make sure to break it up. I think its too much to get four shots in one visit so we don’t get more than
one or two at a time and we go back a week or two later for the rest.
6. How do you practice prescribing medications to my infant/toddler? Do you explore alternatives before prescribing an antibiotic?
I’m not against giving my child antibiotics by any means…when they need it. Some doctors are really quick to prescribe medication and have no qualms about it. You will probably be able to tell how conservative their prescribing
practices are by their response.
7. What is your protocol for answering questions via phone? On average, how long will it take for a nurse to get back to me? If need be, how flexible are you to get me in if my child needs to be seen as soon as possible?
Bottom line is, you want to feel comfortable with the pediatrician that you choose because your child will most likely be going there until they’re in high school. You want to make sure your pediatrician is patient, understands you’re a first time mom, and takes their time to answer all of your questions. You also want someone who is willing to listen to you if your gut is telling you something, even though the doctor disagrees (within reason of course).
You don’t want a condescending know-it-all who makes you feel stupid for asking certain questions. It’s so important to me for my doctor to remember that this is the first time I’m doing this even though it’s their 1,000th time. You should be able to get a good feel for all of these things during your first meeting.
I hope this helps you compose your list of questions to ask a pediatrician in an interview! Good luck and remember that it’s worth to put in the time now to find the pediatrician who is the right fit for your family!