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Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Pediatrician

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A lot of parents start looking for their child’s pediatrician before even giving birth. A child’s first doctor can be crucial to their developmental and physical health, so an interviewing process is completely acceptable. If this is your second child, you may opt for the pediatrician that your first child had. However, if this is your first process, you may want to interview a few potential doctors before choosing the right one.

Around your third trimester it is a good idea to start researching different pediatricians to explore which is most suitable to you. A few places to start include asking your Ob, friends and family for pediatricians they like. Oftentimes Ob’s have lists of pediatricians they provide their patients with. You could also check out the American Academy of Pediatrics Website for pediatricians in your area. Pediatricians on the AAP website are board certified fellows of the AAP. You can also look up the pediatrician in the California Medical board website to ensure he or she is licensed to practice in the state and if there are any claims made against the physician.

Here’s a list of some questions to ask. Usually these last 10-15 minutes. Doctor Dafna will allocate 20-30 minutes for questions usually toward the end of the day, when both parents can be present. Every patient has a different priority as to what is important to them in a pediatrician. Scan the list and ask the ones that are most important to you.

Here are a few questions parents should ask when interviewing a pediatrician:

  • How long have you been in practice? Parents want to feel secure in their choice, and an experienced doctor will have seen many patients. You may also want to know more about where they received their education and how long they have been practicing at their current facility.
  • What hospital do you have privileges at? It is important to make sure that the pediatrician you choose sees newborns at the hospital you will be delivering at, otherwise he or she may not be able to round on your baby.
  • Do you have a specialty? There are general pediatricians who are well rounded in basic children’s health. There are also pediatricians with specialties such as a Pulmonologist who specializes in children with asthma, or a Dermatologist who helps children with skin conditions such as eczema.
  • How long are your patients with you? Parents want to be rest assured that their children are receiving quality care from a doctor who takes the necessary time with them. Ask potential pediatricians how long they typically spend with their patients.
  • When you’re not in the office, who accepts your patients?If your pediatrician is part of a larger practice, there may be days when they’re out of the office when you need to make an appointment. Ask the pediatrician who usually takes on their patients when they are not in.
  • Is there a call center? Some offices have a 24-7 call center where parents can call after-hours with questions and emergencies regarding their patients. Depending on the practice this may be free or at a cost.
  • Is there a sick-patient waiting room? Some offices have an extra waiting room for sick patients so germs won’t be passed around to the infants and well children.
  • What do you think are the biggest concerns about children’s health? There are numerous things that can affect the health of children. Some things, parents can’t even think of. Ask potential pediatricians what they believe are the biggest children’s health concerns. Maybe it’s Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, or it could be childhood obesity. Ask them how you can work together to combat these issues.
  • If you see a child struggling to meet milestones, do you have a plan of action? There are numerous milestones children are expected to meet as they grow up. If a pediatrician sees that your child is behind on these milestones, they should have a plan of action for you to follow between then and the next appointment. That could be seeing a specialist, seeking additional education, or even changing your child’s diet.
  • How accessible are you outside of office hours? New time parents may have a lot of questions, some that come after business hours. Ask how accessible the pediatrician is outside of their office hours. Is their a number you can call or do they accessible via e-mail when you have questions or concerns?
  • Do you have experience with special needs children? For parents of special needs children, pediatricians with experience in this area provide additional confidence. If the pediatrician you like does not have this experience, ask if they have referrals in their network that they can recommend to you. If they do have experience, ask if it’s with the condition that your child may have.
  • How much do you charge? What are your fees? What insurance do you accept? Raising a child can be expensive, and doctor’s visits are included in this. Ask the pediatrician about their rates and fees, and what types of insurance they accept. Even if your income is limited, they may be able to work out a payment plan to make their services affordable for you.

These are only a few questions to ask, but they give you more insight on what to expect from the doctor if they were to be your child’s chosen pediatrician. You can always go for recommendations from friends and families, but not every doctor is one size fits all.

List of Questions to Ask your Potential Pediatrician:
Ask the Doctor

  • Length of time in practice?
  • Any special interests or specialties?
  • Hours of operation?
  • Do you offer same-day sick appointments? How far in advance should I call to make an appointment for my child?
  • Is there a physician on call every day? If my baby is sick after-hours where do I take him/her?
  • What hospital are you affiliated with? Will you see the baby in the hospital when he or she is born?
  • Who covers the pediatrician when he/she is gone?
  • What is the doctor’s opinion on stem-cell banking?
  • Does the pediatrician communicate quickly by email? 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?
  • If my child gets labs will I hear of the results whether or not there are normal?
  • Will your first meeting with my baby be at the hospital or the first checkup? What is your schedule for well baby checkups?
  • Will you discuss my child’s general growth and issues like discipline and social development?
  • What are your views on… Bottle feeding? Circumcision? Parenting techniques? Immunizations? Getting babies to sleep? Antibiotics? Bedwetting?
  • Do you take my insurance? Is there an extra charge for…Advice calls during the day? Advice calls after hours? Medication refills? Filling out forms? Will any other fees apply?
  • What labs can be done in the office (anemia checks, urine checks, rapid throat swabs for strep?)
  • When you order imaging do you get the results quickly?

Ask Yourself

  • Was the office clean?
  • How soon could the interview be scheduled? How long were you in the waiting room?
  • Was the waiting room kid-friendly, with toys and books
  • Was the office staff helpful? Were the nurses friendly?
  • Was the doctor open to questions?
  • Did the communication feel rushed or natural? Was the doctor easy to understand?

Since my kids were born (they are 8 yrs old),we have never had anyone give us as much help or time as Dr. Ahdoot has given us. She is the kind of doctor who takes a personal interest in each patient. She was always available and made sure my kids were well taken care of... read more read more

Dr. Dafna Ahdoot has recently joined the Practice at Tarzana Pediatric Medical Group and I'm so glad she is there. She has been helping with my two kids who have reactive airway disease and communicating with me by phone and email. I feel taken care of... read more read more