If you’re anything like me, you find the countless items online regarding the “things you absolutely must do before baby arrives” to be overwhelming and exaggerated. There were so many items on those lists that I couldn’t help but question – does this really need to be done before my baby arrives? So, I found myself texting my friends questions like, “why does every checklist out there say I need to pick a pediatrician before I have this kid? Do I really need to do that?” Turns out, the answer to that specific question was a resounding “YES!” And, as it turns out, there is a thing called a pediatrician interview that you can (and should) go to in order to pick the pediatrician you want to work with once your baby is born. Because the process can be so stressful, especially for a first time parent, I figured I’d share some questions to ask during a pediatrician interview (with a helpful downloadable pdf).
Each provider is a little bit different, as we found when we went to 3 different doctor’s offices to interview them before Little Man came. Some require you schedule a one-on-one interview in advance, some don’t. There will be some pediatrician’s offices that will do group interviews on specific days of the week. Try not to let their choice here influence you too much, but do keep in mind that bigger practices will tend to choose one of their more “impressive” doctors for these interviews. So that doctor may not be the person your child sees with any regularity (or at all).
How will the interview begin?
Most likely, your interviewees will go through a long speech at the beginning of the interview. Keep in mind, pediatric offices are used to these interviews, and they’re prepared for many questions people tend to ask during a pediatrician interview . In my experience, all of the offices have a long list of answers they’ll start with.
What should I find out before the interview?
I would suggest finding out a few basics before the interview. Namely, I would call or check their website to find out if they take your insurance. It would be a real hassle to go out of your way and interview someone only to find out later that they’ll be an excessively expensive option. And if you do choose them, at least you’ll be prepared for the bill.
Also, I would suggest finding out if they’re even accepting new patients. In the process, it may be helpful to know if they accept children at any age. One of the practices we met with only accepts infants, or families with infants. That was because it is a small, but very well-regarded practice and the pediatricians wanted to be able to know their patients well enough to have an established rapport as they grow up. This meant, however, if we didn’t choose them, then we wouldn’t be able to back-track and come to them when our children got older unless we had another baby.
If you have any other non-negotiables that wouldn’t make it worth your time to attend an interview.
How long can I expect the interview to last?
The length of the interview will largely depend on a number of things:
The questions you ask the pediatrician during the interview. Do they require simple answers or more thorough responses?
How well prepared the pediatrician is for the interview.
Will the interview be one-on-one or will you be a part of a larger group?
How large is the facility? A larger facility will take longer to tour.
How many questions do you have?
In my experience, the interview could last anywhere between 20 minutes and approximately an hour. The only one-on-one interview I went on took approximately 15-20 minutes, because me and my husband figured out that we weren’t very interested in the practice pretty early on. But again, this will largely be dictated by what they cover before opening the floor to questions, as well as the questions you choose to ask during the pediatrician interview.
What are some things to take into consideration that I probably haven’t thought about ?
There were a lot of things that my friends graciously coached me on things to take into consideration. For example:
Is the practice willing to accept children who are not vaccinated? If they do, is there any chance your newborn baby (who cannot be fully vaccinated), would cross paths with any of those children? Keep in mind, babies (not to mention other members of the general population) rely heavily on herd immunity to keep them from getting sick.
Does the practice utilize a sick room and a well room? What is their philosophy behind their choice? I always used to think (even before Little Man was born) that there needed to be a separation between sick and well children. The pediatrician that we chose, however, has 1 waiting room. In our practice, the children don’t wait in the waiting room, though, so there is no need for two separate spaces. Instead, you check in at the front desk (which is in the waiting room) and then you’re taken straight back to the exam room, which is where you do the waiting.
Do the pediatricians at this particular practice help parents deal with emotional and social issues? Is there someone on staff who is specialized in helping children with these types of issues? If not, do they have a person or practice that they can recommend?
Does your pediatrician have a philosophy to help parent’s figure out and establish a healthy sleep schedule for their newborn? Can they recommend any books or other resources to check out prior to you giving birth?
Will I have to pay in order to have the pediatrician fill out paperwork such as daycare or school forms? If so, what kind of cost should you expect to pay?
Can they help with breastfeeding?
Also, what happens after-hours? Is there someone who is going to take your calls, or do you use an email portal? How long should you expect to wait to hear back from someone? Is there a cost associated with this?
Does your pediatric office have a rotation so that one of their doctors will be at the hospital to do the baby’s first exam? Because your baby will have at least 1 exam done before they leave the hospital and then you’ll need to take them to the doctor within approximately 3 days of leaving the hospital. If there isn’t a relationship with your chosen pediatricians’’ office and the hospital where you plan to deliver, a hospital-designated pediatrician will likely be the one to evaluate your little one before leaving the hospital.
I know it can be super stressful to have to pick a provider before you’ve even met your baby.
The good news is, there are a lot of resources out containing questions to ask during your pediatrician interview . Most of the visits you’ll have a fairly routine, but you’ll want to find a pediatric practice that you’re comfortable. For some people that may look like a doctor who is warm and friendly, for another it may be a doctor who is direct and armed with facts.
The important thing for you will be to take into consideration what it is that you want for a provider. Do you want to go to a practice that has men and women so your child can confide in a same-gendered physician as they grow older? Then look for that! Whatever you do, take the time to interview a handful of practices in order to find one you feel comfortable with. And make a decision regarding which pediatrician your child will be seeing prior to going into labor (if you can help it). Because you will need to tell the hospital the name of your chosen pediatrician and you will need to see them within days of discharging from the hospital.
Go into your interview armed with a list of questions that matter to you. And if you don’t know what matters to you (because, lets face it, if you’ve never had a kid then there are a lot of things that you don’t know you want to know yet), then do a little bit of research!