It goes without saying that choosing a pediatrician for your family is an important task. Parents experience tremendous stress about all the decisions they have to make, and this one can seem especially daunting. I can’t tell you how anxious I was eight years ago when I was pregnant with my first child, interviewing doctors to find the one who would come to the hospital when William was born. I was very concerned that I wouldn’t find the right doctor or would end up at a practice that was cold or overcrowded.
While it’s essential to find a good pediatrician, it’s also important that you give yourself some breathing room and realize that you can always switch physicians at any point if you change your mind. For instance, I am currently shopping around for a new pediatrician for my soon-to-be one-year-old. I love my current pediatrician, but, sadly, he is no longer in my insurance company’s network, so to stay with him I would have to pay $750 out of pocket to meet my deductible. That’s just not financially smart, so I’m looking elsewhere. I bring the following list of questions with me when I interview potential pediatricians.
- What insurance companies are you in network with?
- If you are completely out of network, what process do you have set up to help your patients get reimbursed? For instance, do I have to file and keep up with the payments, or does your accountant do this for me?
- How many partners do you have, and can I meet them?
- Will you be at the hospital when my baby is born? If not, or if there is an emergency, who will be there?
- Do you take emergency phone calls, or are they routed to a hospital or nurse switchboard after hours?
- Are you or your partners on call on weekends?
- If you don’t have any partners, who covers for you when you are on vacation? Can I meet him/her?
- Do you always get new vaccines, or do you have stockpiles from years past?
- Do you have any specialty training within the pediatric field? (For example, some pediatricians have extra training/experience with children with autism or other disorders.)
Finally, ask yourself these questions while you are at the prospective doctor’s office:
- How do I feel while I’m here? Is it chaotic?
- Are the nurses nice?
- Is this physician listening to me in a courteous and thoughtful way? Do I like him/her?
Before you commit to any pediatrician you’ve interviewed, I also advise that you do due diligence by networking with other parents who have taken their children to that person. Best of luck!