Most new parents don’t take much time in considering a pediatrician for their baby. If they are nearby, friendly and covered by insurance it is a done deal. It is usually not until they have had a bad experience, such as the doctor overlooking an ailment or being pressured into giving their baby a vaccination they are uncomfortable with, that they realize they may not see eye to eye with their chosen physician. When this happens, you are then left scrambling to find a new pediatrician before your baby’s next well-check. With the time constraints that taking care of a new baby places on you, that can be a daunting task. To avoid this frustration, new parents should seek referrals and interview potential pediatricians before their bundle of joy arrives. Here are a few pointers to help you make sure that the doc you are interviewing is Dr. Right:

  • Take a written list of your most important concerns and parenting issues to determine whether your needs are in line with the doctor’s philosophies.
  • If you have a special need, such as I want to continue breastfeeding when I return to work, ask the doctor how they can help you with this.
  • Avoid being negative. It is unproductive and off putting to start an interview with a list of things you don’t want For example, I don’t want my baby to have a Hep B shot or a bottle in the hospital. It is better to ask, What is your policy about this or that? Remember, your purpose for the interview is to determine if you and the prospective pediatrician are compatible not to debate your points of view. Also, negative openers close your mind to the possibility of learning something from the doctor’s response. No matter how much you have read up, you don’t know it all.
  • Keep your interview brief and to the point. Most doctors do not charge for prenatal interviews, and 5-10 minutes is usually enough to make an adequate assessment. If you feel that you need more time, offer to make a regular appointment so you can pay for them for their time. Rambling about future behavior worries or trying to cover the whole spectrum of pediatrics worries is not the purpose of this visit.
  • Either before or after your time with the doctor, browse around and observe the office. Here are a few things to take into consideration: Sit in the waiting room awhile and observe the spirit of the office. Is there a child-friendly atmosphere? Is the front desk orderly? friendly? flexible? Is the staff approachable when you have questions? Is there child-friendly furniture that is practical and safe? My Ped office has a small play area for the kids which makes wait times go by more smoothly. How long is the wait? Is there adequate separation between “sick” and “well” patients? Nobody wants to use a sick waiting room. Note that the most practical method for separating sick and well patients is to immediately move potentially contagious children into a “sick” examining room, leaving the waiting room for children who are not contagious.
  • Ask the staff for handy information such as insurance plans, office hours, medical fees, hospital affiliations, availability, coverage when off call, and credentials of medical training. Ask how emergencies are handled, how the office handles phone calls, approximate waiting time, and who would answer your questions when doctor is not available.

Choosing the right physician is an investment in your peace of mind. Your baby’s doctor will become a very important person in your lives as your child grows. This is the doctor who examines your newborn fresh after delivery and will ease your mind and care for your child through that bumpy childhood road. That is a partner that you will want to pick carefully.