Your belly is growing … and so is your anxiety. Around the end of your second trimester, the realization suddenly hits you: “This baby will be on the outside of me soon. And I’m going to have to take care of her!”
Luckily, you’re not in this alone. Your pediatrician is your partner in keeping your newborn healthy and in monitoring her development and milestones. That is why finding the right pediatrician for your family is so important.
Many parent websites and prenatal classes advise “interviewing” potential pediatricians well in advance of your baby’s due date, but what do you ask once you’re in the doctor’s office? I have been “interviewed” by many expectant parents, some of whom find themselves tongue-tied, and others who have presented terrific questions that get to the heart of what parents need to know when choosing a pediatrician.
The following are some questions that don’t always get asked – but should – as you search for a partner in your child’s wellness.
What is your availability? What are the office hours? Does the office offer same-day appointments? When is your physician in the office? It’s important to know whether your needs align with your pediatrician’s schedule – and whether you’re comfortable with the rest of the group should your pediatrician not be available.
How do I reach you? Some pediatric practices are better than others at getting you on the phone with a registered nurse or a doctor to answer your questions. If you’re speaking to a medical assistant, you’re speaking to someone who is not licensed to dispense medical advice.
Keep in mind that your most pressing questions don’t always arise during office hours.
At our practice, for instance, many of our patients prefer to reach us via email. Hoag Medical Group’s Patient Portal allows parents to access their children’s growth chart and vaccine record online and on a mobile app. It also helps connect parents to their pediatricians via email and to request prescription refills online. If you have a busy schedule, it helps to know what kind of remote access your pediatrician’s office provides.
How long are office visits? This is a question that doesn’t get asked enough, but one that is critical for new parents. At our practice, our well-child visits (aka checkups) take an average of 30 to 40 minutes. Sick kids are seen for 15 to 20 minutes. Understanding how long visits take will allow you to assess how much time you’ll get to learn about development, nutrition, safety and sleep and to get your questions answered
Other things to keep in mind when searching for a pediatrician is the location of the office (I recommend choosing an office close to home), whether the doctor is in-network for you and whether you like the facilities and support staff.
Your belly is growing … and so is your excitement. Armed with the right questions, you’ll find the provider who will share in the excitement with you.
Visit our board-certified pediatricians at the new Hoag Health Center in Irvine to find the right doctor for your new baby.