OB Clinical Educator Kathleen Chastain asks parents in her prenatal classes if they have chosen a pediatrician for their baby yet. The majority of the time most parents have not and say it’s something they haven’t even thought about.
“People don’t realize how important this decision is,” says Chastain, who educates parents at AdventHealth Waterman. “Your child’s pediatrician will guide you and ensure your child is developing as they should and is the person you’ll entrust your child’s health and wellness to.”
If you’re looking for a pediatrician, it’s easy to search on the Internet for a list of pediatricians near you or just ask a friend who they use. Chastain says taking time to meet with pediatricians and finding the one that best meets your needs can pay off in the long run. She’s assembled a list of questions to ask and red flags to look out for.
“I’ve seen the difference that finding the right pediatrician can make,” she says. “I want parents to be able to make the best decisions based on their needs and their family’s needs.”
After ensuring that a pediatrician accepts your insurance, the next step is to schedule a visit to meet with the doctor. You’ll want to know what to ask — and what to look for in the office.
Check Out the Waiting Room
You can learn a lot about a practice by looking around the waiting room, Chastain says. Here are some things to look for:
- Is the waiting room clean? A pediatrician’s waiting room should be kept clean to prevent kids passing infections to each other.
- Do they separate the sick children and the well children? There doesn’t need to be a wall; even a separate area will prevent a sneezing child from sitting next to an infant waiting for a checkup.
- Are many people waiting to be seen or do they seem to be on schedule? A dozen people waiting suggests you might be waiting for a long time, too.
- How does the office staff interact with the parents and children? Do they know their patients and seem to have a good rapport with them?
Once your name is called, be ready with a list of questions to ask. Be sure to write them down so you don’t forget.
What to Ask a Pediatrician
“These are things you wouldn’t think about unless you’ve had a child,” Chastain notes. Here are some questions to get you started.
- If my child is sick and I call for an appointment, will I get an appointment that day? If your child is sick, waiting even 24 hours might be too long.
- What are your office hours? Some practices have evening or weekend hours to accommodate working parents.
- Who covers your practice when you are off? How often is that? Everyone goes on vacation, and it helps to be ready when your regular doctor isn’t available.
- If my child needs to be admitted to the hospital, which hospital do you refer to?
- Is there a fee if I miss a scheduled well appointment? No one plans to miss an appointment, but if you have trouble keeping them, you’ll want to know if there’s a fee.
- Do you schedule well and sick visits at different times of the day? To decrease the risk of a well-child getting sick while waiting in the waiting room, some pediatricians schedule well and sick visits at different times.
- Does your staff offer breastfeeding support? Some practices employ a lactation consultant who can answer your questions about breastfeeding.
- Do you have a call service for after hours? If so, how long after I call them should I expect a call back? Typically, after-hours calls will be routed to an answering service. If your child is sick, you’ll want to know how prompt the callback will be.
- Will you be the one treating my child every time we come? If not, who will be? Nurse practitioners and other providers are often the ones to see children on a routine basis. They provide excellent care, but knowing what to expect for different types of office visits can be helpful.
- What is the average time we can expect to wait in the waiting room before our appointment? If you come on time, it’s reasonable to expect you won’t be kept waiting too long.
- What procedures do you perform? Some practices perform simple procedures like stitches, while others refer to an emergency department or urgent care.
- Are you board certified? A pediatrician doesn’t have to be certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, but it shows the doctor’s commitment to expanding their knowledge.
Of course, other questions may be important to you. Give yourself time to think about them before visiting.
If you’re looking for a list of pediatricians to choose from, Chastain recommends stopping by AdventHealth Waterman. She has a list of nearly every pediatrician in Lake County, and, after its May 3rd opening, it’ll be an opportunity to see the hospital’s new women’s and children’s center. Consider looking around the new space as you plan for your child’s future.
Especially for first-time parents, some stress and anxiety are normal. Nothing is more stressful for new parents than a sick child. By picking the right pediatrician ahead of time, you can feel safe that your child will be well cared for.
To request an appointment at AdventHealth Waterman, visit our website or call Call352-253-3367.