Choosing a Pediatrician, Part 2: What to Ask and Look For

 

You’ve considered everything from credentials to convenience. Now it’s time to take your short list of pediatricians and see how you click. Ideally, you and your pediatrician will be partners in your child’s health for years to come, so it’s worth taking time to be confident you can communicate and work together well.

Most pediatricians offer shorter meet-and-greet appointments to help you get a sense of their style and personal philosophy. Some offer interviews by telephone or video chat. Keep in mind that certain questions — like those about how things work at your pediatrician’s office — are best directed to office staff, to help you make the most of your time with the doctor (look for a list of those concerns below).

“Making sure you feel the doctor will be someone who can fully answer your questions and provide you with helpful guidance is essential,” says Nubia Calabi, a pediatrician at Brunswick-Baribeau Drive Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Maine. “This person will be a key player in your team in caring for your little one — and meeting him or her prior to bringing home your newborn can help relieve new parent anxiety!”

 

Getting to know a pediatrician

Ask these questions to help you evaluate whether a pediatrician is a good fit for you and your family. It’s a great idea to take notes so you can refer to them later, particularly if you’re meeting with multiple candidates.

  • Why did you choose pediatrics?

     

  • How long have you been practicing?

     

  • Are you a parent?

     

  • What are your views and policies on immunizations and antibiotics (add or subtract topic — such as breastfeeding and circumcision — as needed)?

     

  • Will parenting strategies be part of our conversations?

     

  • Will my child’s emotional and social development be part of our conversations?

     

  • Do you use telehealth? In what circumstances?

     

  • Will you answer questions by email?

     

  • If my child needs care from a specialist, will you coordinate that care?

     

  • How long is a typical well-visit?

     

  • Who covers for you when you’re not available?


After your meeting, ask yourself these questions to help evaluate your experience:

  • Did the doctor listen carefully and communicate clearly?
  • Was the doctor patient and understanding?
  • Did the doctor make sure all your questions were covered?
  • Did the doctor show interest in your child?
  • Would you be comfortable asking this doctor questions?


Questions for the pediatrics staff

In most cases, a staff member can provide information about how the practice operates in a separate call or before or after your in-person visit.

  • Do you accept my insurance? What other health plans do you accept (in case your coverage changes)?
  • How far in advance do I need to schedule appointments?
  • How do you handle needs for after-hours care? What about urgent and emergency care?
  • Which hospital are your affiliated with?
  • Are there any specialists on staff?

Now it’s time to consider all the information you’ve gathered. As you sum it up, remember, there’s no one perfect pediatrician, because your priorities and needs aren’t the same as your neighbor’s or your best friend’s. Trust your instincts, and know that if things don’t work out, you can always make a change.