Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Pediatrician
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You’re nearing the end of your pregnancy (woohoo!), now it’s time to find a pediatrician. If that feels overwhelming or a hard decision to make, don't worry, I'm going to cover all the questions to ask a pediatrician so that you know how to make your choice.
I recommend that you start looking in your sixth month, so you can be done with the decision by your seventh or eighth (it’s best to avoid rushing and panicking in those last days).
Plus, you'll also be taking additional classes, like Childbirth Education and Breastfeeding Classes (see What You Need to Know to Comfortably Breastfeed Your Baby), so the earlier you do this, the better.
To start your search, get some recommendations from experienced people around you. These are your OB-GYN, midwife, other parents among your friends, family, and Facebook pages (like the Self-Care for Mothers private page hosted by yours truly!)
You can even go through the database at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to check their referrals for your area.
Once you have a few names shortlisted, do some research on your own to check their credentials.
First, look up their names in your state’s medical board (American Board of Medical Specialties) to check if they have good records.
I recommend you verify the pediatrician's credentials to see if they are most up to date.
- Are they certified by the American Board of Pediatrics (AAP)?
- Are they a member of the AAP? This means they have met a specific benchmark in delivering good childcare services.
- Are they specially trained in the areas your child might need? This is especially important to consider if your child has some unique condition(s).
Location is important when you're choosing a pediatrician.
So, you've verified the pediatrician's basics, now is time to think about the location of the office (and if they offer tele-health services too).
Experienced moms will tell you this: location is critical, so I would not choose a pediatrician located very far from your house.
You never know when you might have to rush your baby to the doctor in an emergency, so you should choose someone in your local area. It's also really nice to not have to drive too far when you're going to your check-ups for baby or need to take baby in for a medical concern.
When you are finally down to your last 2-3 options, it’s time to give them a call and schedule an interview. I highly recommend that you don't skip this step! Your friends may have a pediatrician they LOVE, but this does not mean you will. It's best to meet the pediatrician and know for yourself.
If the pediatrician doesn't schedule interview sessions, then I would consider that a red flag and find a more welcoming pediatrician that is open to being asked questions so that you can make a good decision.
16 Questions to Ask the Pediatrician
Here is a comprehensive list of questions to ask your baby’s potential doctor to know them better.
1. How long have you been practicing? Which medical school did you graduate from?
This will let you know their background, the medical school they graduated from, and how experienced they are.
2. Do you have kids of your own?
This one is not a requirement, but often comforting for parents to know that their pediatrician understands what it's like to be a parent.
3. Is this group practice?
Whether it is solo or group practice, you should know who will be filling in for the doctor if and when he is away and their qualifications.
This also matters because if you end up loving your pediatrician, you'll want to know how accessible it is to schedule appointments with your specific pediatrician.
4. What are office days and timings? Are you available on weekends?
The timings should be compatible to fit with your own free schedule and job timings.
Not a lot of pediatricians offer weekend hours, so if your preferred one does, that's a plus!
5. What are your views on vaccination, breastfeeding, circumcision, and medications?
Asking this question is vital if you have your own views and preferences for breastfeeding, circumcision, and the use of medications. If you and the pediatrician are not aligned, you'll want to move on to another option.
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6. What insurances do you accept? What is your payment policy?
Paying out-of-pocket for your pediatrician visits can add up quickly. You'll want to make sure that your pediatrician is covered by your insurance.
7. Do you also advise on parenting and the baby’s emotional growth?
The more holistic care they provide for your baby, the better. You'll want a pediatrician that doesn't just see symptoms, but questions where does symptoms are coming from and also sees your baby as a whole being.
8. How often are well checkups scheduled?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center of Disease Control have recommended checkups for babies, but you'll want to find out if your pediatrician follows these or has their own alternative schedule.
9. How much in advance do we have to schedule an appointment? What happens in case of an emergency?
This is important to know. They should offer same-day, walk-in checkups for emergencies.
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10. How long does a checkup take?
It should not be less than 15-20 minutes at all. You want time to be able to ask your questions without feeling rushed.
11. What if there is an emergency when the office is closed? Do you make house calls?
Again, an essential question to ask. There must be a procedure for off-hour emergencies.
12. Do you answer calls, texts, or emails, and how long does it take for you to reply?
A good doctor should be friendly and flexible about taking calls and messages for minor queries. You'll appreciate greatly being able to have this option.
13. What services and procedures does your clinic provide, and when do you have to refer to a hospital? Which hospitals are you affiliated with?
Pediatrician clinics might not have all kinds of testing facilities available, and especially in serious or unusual emergencies, your child would have to be admitted to a hospital. Find out the procedure for that and if those are covered by your insurance.
14. Are there separate waiting rooms for sick and well children?
There should be! And it should be an actual separation, not just sitting on one side of the room.
15. What are the minimum qualifications of the other nurses and staff on duty?
Often times, it's the nurses and other staff that you are going to be calling and interacting with. You'll want to know how qualified these individuals are.
16. If your child is admitted, are parents allowed to stay overnight too?
This one is particular to the hospital that the pediatrician is affiliated with, but they should be able to answer this easily for you.
Some of these questions could also be answered by the nurses or office staff. It is better to talk to the other staff on duty as well and get a good feel of the place. There are other things that you should be noting and asking yourself on your visit too.
6 Questions to ask yourself about the pediatrician office.
1. How easy was it to book an appointment?
Was the office staff professional and expedient? How long did it take to schedule?
2. Did you like the office location? How long did it take to reach? Was there enough parking space?
If you didn't like your experience in finding the location, getting to talk to someone when you called, or being able to easily park...you'll hate it when you have to do that regularly.
3. Was the office clean and well-maintained?
The office should be very hygienic, pleasant, and well-maintained.
4. Was the ambiance colorful, vibrant and child-friendly? Did they have toys, a play area, books etc. for kids to play with?
These are the things that will help your child love visiting the pediatrician office. A pediatrician office decor should be child-friendly and designed with a child in mind.
5. How friendly was the staff on duty? Was everyone kind, polite, and helpful? How was the staff behaving with the children there?
Remember that you'll be interacting with the staff and nurses regularly as a patient. You'll want to look forward to going, so be sure to be mindful of how you felt when visiting the office.
6. How long did you have to wait in the waiting area?
There's nothing more annoying as a mom, then rushing to get to an appointment, only to have to sit in the waiting room for 15+ minutes waiting for your appointment.
Questions to ask yourself about the doctor.
Lastly, how did you feel while conversing with the doctor? The doctor’s personality is the most crucial aspect of all.
A kind, patient and empathetic doctor would make his patients feel half cured just by how he talks to and treats them. And for a children’s doctor or a pediatrician, this becomes even more important. Did you notice if she had patience, gentility, playfulness, and love for children?
So while you are interviewing your pediatrician, you should take note of these for yourself.
- Were they compassionate, patient, and helpful?
- Did they listen and communicate well?
- Did they give you enough time and answer all your questions, or were they in a hurry?
- Did they seem knowledgeable and well-experienced by their responses?
This comprehensive list of questions will help you decide which pediatrician to choose for your baby. Since it’s a long list, you should keep it on your phone or print a copy to keep with you while interviewing.
Once you have chosen a pediatrician, stay in touch with them close to your expected delivery date and ask them beforehand when the first checkup should be scheduled after birth.
After Childbirth Questions to Ask Pediatrician
Meanwhile, as your next step, you should prepare a list of questions to ask them at your first consultation after childbirth.
These would be related completely to your child’s well-being and growth, such as questions on breastfeeding dos and don’ts, what food and other baby care products to use, sleep schedule, bathing schedule, and other care and precautionary tips for parents.
Bringing a new life into this world and caring for it is no easy feat, and for that, we appreciate the courage and spirit of every parent out there and send prayers and well wishes their way for the beginning of a beautiful new journey!