Finding a pediatrician
I started the hunt for a pediatrician today. I live in a fairly small town, so there aren't too many options, but there are options. While I will do some independent research I wanted to ask you seasoned moms for help on this.
I stopped in one office to schedule an appt and they told me there is a $35 fee to interview the doctor. First of all, is that normal? A friend was kind enough to point out to me that I am taking up their time, so a fee isn't necessarily unreasonable. I just never heard of that before.
Next, what should I be asking? What should I be looking for? What are red flags? Should I also try looking for a family practice not just a pedi?
We do plan on vaxing so I don't need to find someone ok with an alternative schedule.
Is this process even really necessary, maybe that's a dumb question, but maybe I just got it in my head that I have to do it...
I actually don't really plan to do it. When the time comes, I will just contact the peds department where I work and see who is taking new patients. I figure if I don't like him or her at the first appt, I will get someone else next time. The system uses electronic medical records so it's pretty easy to see a different doctor.
Also you might want to check the web. Hospital I work for has a search feature and you at least get pictures, where they went to school, if they have any special interests and many of them have a short video.
We interviewed 3 pediatricians. We did not pay a fee for any of the 3 doctors. I was very very glad I went because I knew immediately that 2 of the offices were not a good fit for us and we meshed right away with our pedi. Even of you don't have exact questions, you can get a feel for--is their office clean, warm, inviting, up to date equipment? Is the secretary nice, friendly and likes her job (she will be the one you're on the phone with for appts, emergencies etc)? How do you contact the doctor in an emergency? Does he/she use an answering service or is it his/her cell phone ringing? Also one of the things we liked the best about our pedi was that he did a lot of the talking. So while we didn't have a ton of questions, we left with a ton of information about him and his practice.
I thought it was unnecessary at first, but I am super glad we interviewed pediatricians.
I interviewed a few. Many of them met with more than one prospective patient at one time. For questions, you may want to ask about their after hours procedures and weekend hours. We were also concerned about abx use, and some were very open to trying something else before resorting to abx right away, but I found that many of them gave the response that they do not heavily prescribe abx. If you plan on nursing, you may want to ask if they have a certified lactation consultant on staff. I found that very helpful. I would go in to meet the pedi you plan to use. You may be turned off right away just based on their personality. you don't want to have to deal with someone with a negative attitude those first few months you are going in for lots of well visits. The place we originally chose had 2 separate rooms in a different ahllway that were only for newborn well-visits. I really liked that.
All that being said, we are actually on our 5th pediatrician in 5 years (though we have been with this one for 3). You can always change. We changed after our first visit when the pedi spent the whole time telling me how i needed to stop eating tomatoes and garlic and to make sure I drink at least a whole cup of milk every day. Since I had interviewed a couple others, we already had a second choice, so I didn't have to spend time during that first crazy week being a new mom looking for a pedi.
I would also go to a pedi. They see children every day so they are more aware of things that are specific to children, like developmental goals. They also might be more aware of illnesses that are going around in your neighborhood.
I know that I interviewed pediatricians, but I can't remember what I asked. I can tell you why I chose this one.
1. Every morning, they have an 'Ask the pediatrician' hour. You can call and describe symptoms to see if you need to bring the kid in or not, which is extremely useful.
2. No secretaries answering the phone, only nurses. Obviously, fewer middle men means that you get your answer sooner.
3. Longer hours, including Saturdays. They also have separate 'vaccine only' appointments, which are basically in and out. They also have their own 'blood draw' guy in house, so no need to schedule separate appointments for testing.
4. The pedis had privileges at the hospital where I delivered. So, the practice became familiar with DD pretty much from get-go.
5. Lactation consultant on staff
6. The pedi was very clear about what he will be supportive of, and what he will not be supportive of. Alternate vaccine protocol was okay; not vaccinating, not an option. I appreciated the honesty.
7. Reviews. Online reviews were superlative. Two of the pedis on staff are rated among the best in this area. Initially, I did see all 5, but eventually settled on two. Both are awesome, wonderful with Mira, and not quick with meds and intervention.
I think it's definitely a lot easier when you have limited options. I work for a health system and therefore my insurance coverage is the best when I stay at my system. So a lot of the questions about hours and such wouldn't apply for me.
Ours was kind of easy, we got lucky! Dh and I wanted our baby circumsised right away.. there was only one pedi to do it... the others you had to make an appointment ( usually 2 wks) we ended up liking him a lot! I am hearing that they don't really do circumcisions in the hospitals after delivery anymore... hmm I wonder why?Also friends, word of mouth helps too.
I didn't do interviews. We started out with the pediatricians at our hospital. When we moved to the suburbs, we found an office near our home with several doctors. They got good reviews from parents online. We tried them and liked the doctors who we met. That was all...
They do have saturday hours. They have a separate entrance (albeit to a few chairs near the file room) for sick kids. They have a play area in the waiting room. they treat my son well and take a practical approach to medicine...
I didn't interview, I just went with who other Mom friends I had recommended... Turned out that particular pedi wasn't a good fit for us and we tried out a few more. Honestly, I've tried asking the questions up front, but what it really came down to for me was:
1.How easy was it to get in the same day (i.e. been up all night with a sick kid, I don't want to wait a few days)
2. Was there a nurse line I could call either during business hours or after hrs to ask questions (Usually whether I should bring the child in or not).
3 Could they handle urgent situations (Our current dr. will do stitches and set breaks during business hrs, which is really convenient to take the child to a place they are already comfortable with vs the ER).
4. Were they familiar with Breast Fed babies... in my experience they don't always follow the growth curve like formula babies... I had my 1st constantly compared to a 'curve' that she didn't follow, however she was perfectly heathy... The dr. caused me a lot of un needed stress.
What we actually ended up doing was taking our kids to our family practice doctor. We tried 3 different pediatric offices and they either had a very different medical philosophy, or where very hard to get in to be seen quickly. I did some interviewing stuff over the phone and heard fantastic answers, but when it came down to it, it wasn't as good of a fit as they made it seem... So you might just have to actually try out an appt or two.
Great info, thanks!
It occurred to me to use my insurance provider directory to see who's around my area. SO here's a new question: how much stock should I put into the insurance company's rating--like they have their "top tier" and then everyone else.
The information provided on top tier is this:
Members in health plans that offer tiered benefits may pay lower copays and coinsurance amounts for services provided by Tier 1 physicians.
Tier 1 physicians have received the Premium designation for:
* Quality & Cost Efficiency OR
* Cost Efficiency & Not Enough Data to Assess Quality
I didn't interview only because the pediatrician was the same one I had growing up. I am actually thinking of switching both kids to my family doctor here soon because I know it won't be long before he is going to be retired and waiting an hour for a visit gets really old though he is a great doctor. There's no harm in a family doctor IMO they tend to be more personable from my experience. I have never heard of a fee for a pediatrician's office to interview them though. The first thing is to check if the doctor has a full panel. Since you already know you are doing vaccinations you wouldn't have to worry about trying to schedule alternate times for those. You can ask general wait times, policies for cancelling an appointment, see if the place is inviting with toys, colorful decor, etc, see how you feel about how the nurses talk to you and the receptionists if they seem to have an attitude or if they seem to be very happy to help. See if the pediatrician or doctor is more serious or playful with children.
I did a couple of interviews; nobody charged me any $$$. I really liked one office and we started there; as the time went on, my views changed and this pedi and I clashed. So I eventually found a different office and a pedi from the practice who had the approach I liked. If I were you, I would want to know their after work hours, how they handled weekend illnesses, do they have on call nurse, separate entrance for well/sick visits. Now I know what I am looking for in a pedi so I will have other questions too but back when I was expecting my first I thought I knew what to look for but in reality I changed so so much after the baby. Maybe your views will remain the same, maybe they will change but I would not spend too much time and money interviewing offices in person; I would go for a larger practice, closer to my home, with good network and then I would see from there.