Expectant mothers have enough to worry about without the added stress of figuring out what to ask a potential pediatrician at a meet-and-greet interview.
To help take (some) of the stress out of the process, we’ve compiled a list of questions to ask with help from Dr. Paula Schreck, a pediatrician with St. John Providence, Dr. Lauren Snabb from Children’s Hospital of Michigan – and additional tips from the Metropolitan Pediatrics LLC website.
Make a prenatal visit
As for when you should start seeking out a pediatrician, Snabb says it’s never too early. “I encourage parents to seek out that prenatal visit,” she says. “It’s important to establish a rapport with someone they feel they can trust.”
A pediatrician needs to see a child within 24 hours of birth, so already having established a relationship with the doctor will make that first appointment go smoothly.
Schreck, who has been working as a pediatrician for 20 years, says, “You want to make sure you’re well matched on several different levels.” This includes making sure the pediatrician can work logistically – geographically close and with hours that work for you – and that his or her philosophy is aligned with your own.
Here are some questions to take with you – just in case the pregnancy brain kicks in:
- Are you board certified?
- Do you have any specific areas of expertise?
- Who takes care of kids if they’re hospitalized?
- Where do you refer patients for subspecialists?
- In what circumstances would you prescribe antibiotics?
- What support resources can you offer me for breastfeeding help?
- How strict is your vaccine schedule?
- What is your philosophy on circumcision, exposing infants to the public and discipline?
- Who provides after-hours care?
- How does scheduling an appointment work in this office?
Schreck, who is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, says making sure an expectant mother’s breastfeeding goals are understood and appreciated by a pediatrician is vital.
“Roughly 80 percent of mothers in Michigan initiate breastfeeding, yet the majority do not reach their breastfeeding goals,” Scheck says. “It’s important to find a pediatrician who knows about breastfeeding and community resources like breastfeeding clinics and support groups.”
Snabb says asking questions about how the clinic operates on a daily basis in terms of scheduling, board certifications of the pediatrician, the immunization schedule and access during after-hours are all things an expectant mother should find out. Making sure the waiting room is up to your standards is also important.
“Making sure your pediatrician is following the CDC vaccination guidelines makes sure you can protect your children in the waiting room,” Snabb adds.
In recent year, Schreck says, one of the most common questions parents have is the pediatrician’s approach to antibiotics. In fact, back in 2015, Time Magazine reported that antibiotics can “alter infant gut bacteria, which are tied to everything from allergies and obesity to infectious diseases …” Knowing how willing a pediatrician is to prescribe antibiotics, and in what situations, can help parents find a doctor who shares their beliefs.
Schreck adds that where a pediatrician went to school is less important than whether that doctor is board certified. Making sure the pediatrician is board certified is a better indicator of pediatric knowledge because keeping the certification requires testing to be done every year, so the doctor will be more up-to-date on new pediatric medicine and regulations.
Schreck says pediatricians highly value these meet-and-greet appointments and that most do not charge.
Did you do a meet-and-greet appointment before deciding on a pediatrician for your doctor? What questions did you ask? Tell us in comments.