What questions should I ask a prospective pediatrician?
September 18, 2018 3:13 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are shopping around for a pediatrician to take care of our forthcoming progeny. What kind of questions should we be asking during a meet and greet appointment? Thanks.
posted by Fister Roboto to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Assuming this pediatrician is already coming with good credentials and recommendations the main thing you want is to make sure you guys all click. As their opinion about things like sleep training, bed sharing, how long babies should breast feed if that's what your wife is doing, and vaccination schedules. You'll be able to see if this is someone you can comfortably work with, whether or not they share all your ideas.
Obviously make sure they are board certified and affliated/have rights at a nearby hospital.
posted by nantucket at 3:57 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's also a good idea to find a practice you love, since you will not always be seeing the pediatrician. Is the office cheerful? Well-maintained? Nice toys? How are the waiting rooms? How's the office staff? Are they friendly and helpful? Short-tempered? Does the office offer parenting classes? Stress reduction for teens? Yoga? Do you see resources for teens?

In my case, I chose a pediatrician that I loved, but after a few years she left the practice. Although I liked her, I didn't really love her new practice, so I stayed put.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:25 PM on September 18, 2018

My pediatrician’s office does group “newborn consultations” before the birth, where they go over the office policies and prospective patients have the opportunity to ask questions. I LOVE our office - someone is always on call, they have a very responsive nurses line during the day and the staff is super nice and helpful. They have separate well/sick waiting areas and I’ve never waited more than 5 minutes (infants have priority and short wait times.) I found them through a friend so I recommend asking around, even if just on a local Facebook mom’s group. I would avoid chains if they have them in your area.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 6:20 PM on September 18, 2018

My doctor is a family practitioner so, I was seeing her prior to my babys birth, and knew a ton about her. It is super convienent to have all my care in the same place.

Some general questions 1)how fast can I make an appointment
2)if I have an emergency question how fast can I get a call back?

Our biggest plus is that she staggers her schedule really well, and there are never any other kids in the waiting room when we go. That makes me really happy.
posted by AlexiaSky at 6:26 PM on September 18, 2018

Find out whether they have sick child appointments on Saturdays. I would never go back.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:35 PM on September 18, 2018


1. Is there a 24-hour ask a nurse line?
2. How hard is it to get a same day appointment for illness? What about on the weekends/holidays?
3. How long do you spend with patients and how long does it take for you to get back to parents?
4. Do you e-mail with patients/parents?
5. Who fills in when you are out?
6. Also - what is your position on taking unvaccinated patients?

Last, I particularly like that our pediatrician is older and has seen everything AND she works at the weekend emergency clinic, so every time little Toddlers has had a mysterious rash or illness, she knows on sight or even verbal description what it is. She also never panics about anything, ever, which I feel like comes from having seen everything.
posted by Toddles at 7:21 PM on September 18, 2018

Mom of 2 here including one boy who we knew we were not going to have circumcised. So, that was a big question as in, are you going to respect our choice not to do this?

Other things that have been super helpful:
- online scheduling?
- when are the earliest available appointments?
- do you round at the hospital where we are planning to deliver?
- what is the office's policy on unvaccinated children (as in are they allowed, or not)
- how many other doctors are there in the practice (because there will be a time when you need to get in and your doc is not available)
- and of course, experience.

Pediatricians to me are like safe havens in the terrible storm of new parenthood. You will panic at some point. It is a given, so find one that you feel super comfortable with who does not freak out at the little things. We've been incredibly fortunate to have these kinds of peds for our kids and it has made a world of difference for my sanity.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 8:10 PM on September 18, 2018

- Sick/well areas in the waiting room
- How long is a typical wait time if you show up on time for your appointment (one doctor said 2 hours, one said no more than 15 minutes.. guess which one we went with)
- How quickly you can be seen for a sick visit without an appointment
- what are their recommendations on going out in public after the baby is born (one doctor said to not even go out to our own backyard for a month... we did NOT go with that one. On a related note, one doctor said to always shower whenever we come home to the baby (also excessive, not our style)
- how likely their are to defer to antibiotics or medicine vs trying other treatments
- ask them if they help track development milestones.. some questions are too obvious, but the more you ask the more you'll know if the doctor is someone you want to potentially see for 18 years
Also, you will be calling the receptionist/office/billing department often for paperwork stuff, how easy is it to get in touch with an actual person instead of leaving a message back and forth? How responsive are they? And their hours matter a lot too. If you dont have to take off work for a well visit because you can go at 7am or 6pm, it's a nice perk.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 8:23 PM on September 18, 2018

We just did this (we have a 3 month old!). Here are the questions we asked:
- What is your schedule like? Full or part time? Weekend hours?
- Do you offer same day sick appointments?
- How far in advance do appointments need to be scheduled? How easy is it for me to make appointments?
- How long have you been in practice?
- Do you have specific areas of interest?
- What is your immunization schedule? Are you following the recommended schedule?
- Where do you refer patients who need to see a specialist?
- Do you have separate sick and well waiting rooms?
- Do you respond to questions via email? Phone? Is there a hotline for routine and non-emergency questions? Do you charge extra $$ for that?
- Will your initial visit with my baby be at the hospital, or at your office, and when?
- What is the schedule for well baby checkups?
- What hospitals do you work with?
- Do you take my insurance?
- What tests are handled at your office, and what are handled off-site (i.e. blood draw, x-ray, etc.)

And, this isn't really a question, but make sure you like the pediatrician you meet with. We clicked with ours right away and she answered everything favorably for us. We trusted her immediately. You don't want to go with someone you don't like or trust.

Hope this helps! Good luck and congrats on the pregnancy.
posted by FireFountain at 8:38 PM on September 18, 2018

I would also ask if the pediatrician has any particularly challenging young patients and how she deals with them. My kid ended up being one of those super sensitive kids and my pediatrician did not tell me about the anesthetic cream that can be used in advance of vaccinations to make them less traumatic. I found out about it from a different doctor in the practice, a doctor who was much better with my kid. You don’t know yet what kind of child you are having. So it might be a good idea to look for a professional who is comfortable treating and being responsive to a wide variety of temperaments.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:39 PM on September 18, 2018

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