Something I didn’t know but learned from other mom’s is that you need to have a pediatrician picked out prior to your delivery. The on-call pediatrician at the hospital will examine your baby shortly after you give birth, but in Virginia, your personal practitioner comes to the hospital for a thorough check within 24 hours of your daughter or sons birth. You then visit this doctor within two days of being released and will continue to visit that practice for your well check-ups and routine first-time-mom worries.
My husband and I have gone on two pediatric visits and haven’t liked either enough to “sign up” with them. I never truly thought that this would be a complex process, however when deciding who I will interact most when concerned, worried, or simply in need for some first-time advice, I realized picking a pediatrician (who is also getting paid thousands and thousands of dollars from my insurance company each year) is quite a difficult task.
I wanted to share with my readers the questions and/or observations I have asked and/or documented during my visits that have been quite helpful!
When you call to schedule your visit/interview ask the following:
1. Will this visit include other couples or is it a one-on-one conversation with the physician?
2. Is there a fee for this visit (one practice I went to did charge us!)?
3. Do you take my insurance (if they don’t, pass)?
4. Are you affiliated with my labor and delivery hospital (If not, I would suggest picking a different practice as this means one of your doctors probably won’t be given rights to come to your hospital after the birth)?
Questions when interviewing a pediatrician:
1. How many doctors are in the practice? Do we get to pick a primary physician or are we assigned one?
2. How long have you been practicing/how long has the practice been in existence?
3. Do any of the doctors have sub-specialties (asthma, allergies)?
4. What are your hours? Do you offer evening or weekend hours (this is critical, you never know when your baby will be sick)?
5. Do you offer same-day sick appointments (again, critical! You don’t want to wait 24 hours to see a doctor if you have a vomiting baby)? How far in advance do well appointments need to be scheduled?
6. What are you views on breast feeding/bottle feeding? How do you help or encourage mothers with breast feeding?
7. Do you have a lactation consultant on staff?…if no lactation consultant, how do you deal with breast feeding problems?…how do you respond to breast fed babies who have slow weight gain? This is a critical question if you plan to breast feed. You want to work with a practice that will support your desires and not force you to switch to formula immediately if the baby is gaining weight at a rapid pace. You’d be surprised at the answers, tone, or beating around the bus answers I have received. You can easily identify those who do support breast feeding moms.
8. Do you respond to questions by e-mail?
9. Do you accept calls for routine and non-emergency questions? If I leave a message, how long does it usually take you to return the call?… Is there an extra charge for advice calls during the day? Advice calls after hours? (I almost fell over when one practice told me they would charge me if I called to ask a question!!!!)
10. What is your schedule for well baby checkups? How often do you see the baby in the first year?
11. Do you support an alternate/reduced vaccination schedule (spacing out vaccines…half dosages…waving normal procedures such as eye ointment, Hep B shot)? This is a key question for me. I won’t “sign-up” with a practice that won’t allow us to execute an alternate vaccination schedule. Telling me “you will do it, but don’t support it” isn’t an okay answer.
12. Will you be available to discuss behavioral developments with me during visits (teething, potty training, bad behavior etc)?
13. Do you have any children? I never though to ask this but other mom’s say that it makes a difference in their approach and understanding with first-time mom’s.
Also ask yourself:
1. Was the office clean?
2. Was the waiting room kid-friendly, with toys and books?
3. Was there a well and sick waiting area?
4. Was the office staff helpful? Were the nurses friendly?
5. How long did you have to wait to be seen? How long were patients waiting to be seen?
6. Was the interview rushed? Did the doctor seem open to questions?
7. First impression of the doctor?
8. Did the communication feel natural? Was the doctor easy to understand?