The most important aspects of my practice are to take great care of my patients, to ensure confidence to all parents and to build long-lasting relationships with my patients and their families. I’m always excited and eager to meet new families and their littles, but I also understand that this might be intimidating and scary for many parents and parents-to-be.
Whether you’re pregnant with your first child, or relocating to a new medical provider, it’s always important to ask questions when choosing a pediatrician. The better prepared you are, the easier it will be for you to make this important decision.
When you’ve narrowed down to two or three pediatricians, don’t hesitate to schedule face to face meetings. There’s something so much more personable when pediatricians can meet you and see your family and understand your needs.
I invited a dear friend of mine, Kelsey K., to share her perspective as a parent when it comes to choosing a pediatrician for her two boys (and another little one on-the-way!). As a mother, she wants what’s best for her children, and feels it’s important for parents to ask these questions to see if a pediatrician is a good fit.
What is your education? Are you a member of the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics)?
I want to know that you’ve done your education and you have knowledge on the new studies for pediatrics.
It’s important to me knowing that you’re a mother/father and understanding that our children are the #1 priority.
Are you willing to treat your patients like they are your own?
What is your best means of communication? Do you provide emailing to nurses or other staff?
How do you handle same-day sick appointments? Is there a separate waiting room for sick children?
How can I contact you when there is an emergency and what should my plan be for getting immediate care for my child?
Are you affiliated with any hospitals?
Do you work solo or with a group? Will you be seeing my child at every well check, or will you rotate with other pediatricians?
What are your office hours? Is there a secondary office in a local town?
What insurance do you accept? Do you provide a payment plan?
How can I refer you to friends and family? Are you currently taking any referrals?
If there is ever a concern with allergies or needs that go beyond a well check, what are you specialized in?
Will you provide information/referrals to contact a specialist that you believe will help me and my family?
From the perspective of a pediatrician, these are the questions I suggest asking. The answers to these questions will be great information to keep on hand for emergencies, general knowledge or if you plan to refer the practice to friends and family.
What are the office hours? Do they offer flexible office hours (open before 8:00am and/or close after 5:00pm, weekend hours)?
Is the pediatrician affiliated with any hospitals? If so, which ones? Will the doctor come to the hospital after birth to examine the baby? If not, who will see the baby at that time? If your baby needs to be admitted to the hospital, who will provide medical care there?
Does a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and/or Physician Assistant work in the office? Do they offer the option of choosing whether or not you may want to have your child be seen by a provider other than a pediatrician?
What are the payment policies? Which insurance companies they accept?
How are referrals to specialists handled?
How are calls from parents during office hours handled? Will your questions be answered by a nurse, or will the doctor personally call you back? Will the office staff call parents with tests results, even if they are normal?
How are after office hours calls handled? Who will answer these calls, an on-call pediatrician or a nurse? If it’s an on-call nurse system, how are emergencies handled?
Is email an option for communicating with your pediatrician? Does the practice use electronic medical records? Does the practice have a website? Does their website have a patient portal where you have access to your child’s test results?
How are visits for acute illness handled? Can you schedule same-day appointments? What is the office policy for walk-ins?
Are lab tests done in the office? If so, which ones? Please know that offices may perform basic tests, such as hemoglobin/hematocrit, urine dipstick, rapid Strep tests, Influenza test, RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) test, Mononucleosis test, rather than send samples out to a laboratory.
How many patients are waiting? Do they overbook or does each time slot only have one patient scheduled?
Does the office offer separate waiting rooms, one for sick and another for well children? Is the area clean and child-friendly?
Is the staff friendly, courteous and considerate to patients and their families in the waiting room and to people on the phone?
How is the overall atmosphere in the waiting area?
Are the nurses amicable, compassionate and patient?
Is the doctor patient with you when you’re asking questions? Does he or she explain things carefully and calmly? Do you feel rushed in the office, as though the doctor and/or the office staff wants to move on to the next patient?
Is the doctor a good listener? Do you feel comfortable asking him/her questions or not?
What are the pediatrician’s thoughts about breastfeeding, homeopathic or alternative medicines, the use of antibiotics, etc.?
All of these questions are important to ask the pediatrician(s) you’re interviewing. Keep the line of communication open and honest. Even though a mother’s questions and perspective may be entirely different from the questions recommended to ask by a pediatrician, choose the questions and topics of conversation that are most important to you and your family. It’s essential to feel comfortable and to ultimately choose the pediatrician you have a great connection with because the pediatrician-patient relationship may last until your child becomes an adult… 18 to 21 years!
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