10 Questions To Ask When Choosing A Pediatrician

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She'll take good care of your baby

Congratulations—you’re expecting! Along with all the exciting (and seemingly endless) preparations for your new arrival, one of the most important things you need to do is choose a pediatrician.

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Rachel E. Menaged, MD, FAAP

As well as being a highly experienced physician, this person should be someone whom you feel comfortable with. After all, he/she will be helping you raise your child, maybe several children, for many years to come.

We get a lot of questions from our parents-to-be who want to know what they should ask when meeting with a prospective pediatrician. With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of guidelines, based on our years of experience helping parents raise healthy, happy children.

10 most important questions to ask when choosing a pediatrician

1. How many well-baby visits will I need to plan for?

How often will you need to bring your baby in for check-ups, vaccinations, development assessments and other growth evaluations? Once a month? Every week? Knowing what to expect will help you plan those first several months once your baby arrives.

2. Do you take my insurance?

Very important question! If the answer is no, this might be a deal-breaker.

3. What hospital are you affiliated with?

Every pediatrician, whether a solo practitioner or part of a group, is affiliated with a nearby hospital or medical center, sometimes several. If he/she has privileges at the hospital where you deliver, he/she will be able to take care of your baby in that hospital.  If not, another pediatrician will be assigned to your baby while in the hospital.

4. What are your office hours/after hours?

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, for example, each of our 12 offices has its own weekday, weekend and holiday hours. When choosing your pediatrician, it’s important to know whether the office is open late, on weekends and holidays, and if physicians are available in an emergency. Will the office’s hours work with your schedule?

5. Can I speak to you directly when I have a problem/question?

In many pediatric practices, you might get referred to a nurse practitioner when you call with a question or concern. Here at Westchester Health Pediatrics, when you want to speak directly with your child’s doctor, you can. He/she may need to call you back, but they will personally connect with you to discuss your child’s care and answer your questions. To most parents, this is very important.

6. How are emergencies handled?

Even with the best possible care, emergencies can happen. When they do, you need to know what to do. Does the pediatrician’s office have emergency capabilities or should you take your child directly to the emergency room? Will your pediatrician meet you there? If your child is admitted to the hospital, is he/she still under your pediatrician’s care? These are all important details to know ahead of time.

7. What is your childcare philosophy?

We feel that it’s very important for you to choose a pediatrician whose views on child-rearing are in step with your own regarding things like breastfeeding, alternative medicine, vaccinations, use of antibiotics, sleep and discipline issues, eating disorders and a whole host of other topics. Seeing eye-to-eye on important issues will make your entire experience a lot easier and more enjoyable for you and your child.

8. How long have you been in practice?

This is a very valid question and good information to know.

9. Do you have children?

Again, good information for you to know, not only the number and ages of the pediatrician’s children but their gender as well. Does he/she have personal experience raising boys, girls, twins, a special needs child?

10. What do you like best about being a pediatrician?

This might be the most important question of all. Why did this person go into pediatrics? What do they like most about taking care of children? Does it bring them joy to watch their patients progress from babies to young adults? Do they value forming caring relationships with their patients and their families, not just dispensing medicine?

We’re here to help you through this exciting, exhausting time

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we’re here for you and your new baby. Please come in and talk with us about any concerns or questions you may have about what’s soon coming your way. We have years of experience and lots of advice and guidance to offer, as well as a listening ear. Feel free to contact us, and we look forward to meeting you and your new bundle of joy.

By Rachel E. Menaged, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with Westchester Health Pediatrics.

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About the Author: ML Ball