Q: [Maternity/Newborn] We must have been good this year, because Santa is bringing us our first bundle of joy. But we need to score a great pediatrician, STAT. It’s so confusing and stressful to choose, would it be greedy to ask him to toss one of those in his bag, too?
A: Your belly is growing … and so is your anxiety. 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? Does the office offer same-day appointments? When is your physician in the office? Are you 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. Most pressing questions don’t arise during office hours. 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.
How long are office visits? This is a critical question for new parents. Our well-child visits, 30 to 40 minutes. Sick kids are seen for 15 to 20. 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 is whether the office is close to home, whether the doctor is in-network 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.
Julie Omid, M.D., FAAP, is a pediatrician with Hoag Medical Group. Like many doctors, being a parent has helped Dr. Omid relate better to her young patients. Iinspired by how doctors treated her grandfather undergoing heart surgery, she went into medicine to help others. www.hoagmedicalgroup.com