You and your child will have a relationship with their pediatrician from the day they are born, so picking the right pediatrician is something you want to put some thought into. You want to have someone who will respect your ideas as a parent, someone who is able to connect with your child (that nice blend of professional doctor and kindly preschool teacher), and who is going to give you the time that you need and listen to you when you have concerns.
So how to find your perfect fit? There are a few things you can do to begin your search – such as looking at Yelp reviews (which – take those with a grain of salt; read a few positive and negative reviews and note what specifically was said and when the review was written). You can also ask other parents in the area who they like and don’t like, and why. But one of the best ways to find a pediatrician is to set up…interviews! Yes, interviews, you are going to be giving this person your trust and your business, and it is a very common thing nowadays to schedule time to talk with potential pediatricians.
Start your evaluating from the moment you call to make an appointment (I’d say anywhere from 7 months pregnant on). How easy was it to talk to a nurse or secretary? Did you get an immediate welcoming vibe from them, or did they seem rushed and uninterested (there was one office I decided against immediately because of the off-putting personality of the person who handled the phones). After all, they’ll be the first person you’ll talk to when making appointments or calling for after-hours advice, so you want a helpful and patient staff all-around.
Once an appointment is made (“I’m due in ____ and would like to set a meet-and-greet with Dr. ____ to ask them some questions to help us decide on a pediatrician”), take some time when you arrive to check out the waiting room. Is the room clean? Inviting? Are there things to entertain restless kids (such as videos being played)? Were you greeted warmly when you entered?
First impressions will also say a lot when you meet your doctor. Were they on time? Did they seem genuinely glad to see you, or did you feel like you were interrupting their day, sort of “Let’s make this quick, I have other things to do”? Did they give you their undivided attention or were they distracted? Did the communication seem natural? Were they easy to understand and open to questions?
As far as questions, print some out ahead of time. Here are a few to get you started (and some of these, especially regarding hours and appointments, can be discussed with the secretary or nurse before or after you see the doctor):
• What are your hours? Do you offer evenings or weekends?
• Do you offer same-day sick appointments? How far in advance do well-appointments (check-ups) need to be scheduled?
• What if my baby gets sick when the office is closed? Who covers in an emergency if you aren’t on-call?
• Is this a solo or group practice? If it’s solo, who covers when you are gone? If it’s a group, how often will we see you, and how often will we see other members?
• Do you respond to questions by e-mail? Do you accept calls for routine and non-emergency questions? If I leave a message, how long does it usually take you or a nurse to return the call?
• Will your initial meeting with my baby be at the hospital, or their first office check-up? What is your schedule for well-baby check-ups?
• Will you discuss my child’s general growth and issues like discipline and social development?
• What are your views on: Breast and bottle-feeding? Circumcision? Parenting techniques? Getting babies to sleep? Alternative medicine? Antibiotics? Immunizations? Childhood obesity?
• What hospitals do you work with?
• Is there an extra charge for: advice calls during the day? Advice calls after-hours? Filling out forms? Will any other fees apply?
• What tests are handled in the office, and what is done elsewhere? Do you have a lab onsite, or will I be sent elsewhere if my child needs lab work drawn?
• Is there anything that makes your practice unique? Do you have any sub-specialties?
And always remember – if you pick a pediatrician and just are not connecting with them, then change it up! Make an appointment to see a different pediatrician and discuss why you’re looking for a new doctor and what is not working out with your current one to see if their temperament and practice seem to be more what you’re looking for.
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