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Interviewing Pediatricians.

What the hell are we doing?With only a few weeks left to go before the baby arrives, Chris and I are starting to think past "just the pregnancy."  The focus is shifting slightly from "How do we manage this pregnancy" to "Okay - she's here.  … now what??"

A few months ago, we started to make some changes for the baby's sake.  We opened a savings account for our daughter.  We spent that one crazy day at Babies R Us registering for things BSparl might need when she arrives on the scene.  We spoke with our insurance company and talked about the process of adding BSparl to our plan.  And now - we're starting the pediatrician process.

As in, who is going to answer the questions about our baby's health?  Who will work with us to help keep BSparl safe?  Admittedly, I wasn't always the healthiest kid, my issues having nothing to do with diabetes.  Like there was that time I ended up with a splinter in my eye from a neighborhood "sword fight" using tree branches.  Or the time I was watching a movie when I was about 3 years old and stuck bread in my ear, just to see if it fit.  (It happened to fit quite nicely, thanks.)  Or … um, the time I was also watching a movie and decided to see if I could fit a raisin up my nose.  (The raisin also fit.  And it had to be extracted by a doctor at the emergency room.  And apparently I liked to put food in all the available spots in my head.)

Knowing what kind of bizarre things happened to me as a kid, I am already braced for when BSparl toddles over to me and tells me she fit four Cheerios up her nose.  So, like I said, Chris and I are starting to think about our pediatrician options.

I'm not looking for specific recommendations for doctors, but more the questions that you ask your child's doctor.  Do you interview a pediatrician like you'd interview a babysitter?  My OB/GYN suggested that Chris and I actually go meet a potential pediatrician and ask them a few questions, see how we feel about having this person as part of our child's life.  You know, get a feel for what it will be like to engage with this person.  So what kinds of questions should I be asking a potential pediatrician?  The ones that jump to mind don't seem right to me:

"Do you like children?"  (I'd hope so.)
"What made you want to be a pediatrician?"
"We have some chronic illnesses in our family.  What's your familiarity with diabetes, etc?"
"Do you like cats?"  (Not relevant.)
"Do you take our insurance?"
"How long will we need to call in advance of making an appointment?"
"How many fingers am I holding up?"  (Three.)

While I'm not worrying about whether or not my child will end up with type 1 diabetes, I do realize that there is a slightly increased risk.  And I want to have a doctor who is able to work with Chris and I through our decisions to pursue TrialNet, and other research studies, as we keep close tabs on BSparl's health.  So it's time to start putting together our questions and subjecting some poor soul to our curiosities.  

Any suggestions on how to find a pediatrician?  And do you know how many fingers I'm holding up?

Comments

Ha ha ha - I was determined to see if a Lego would fit up my nose and apparently it did - had to be removed by a doctor.

When looking for a pediatrician, you really need to find one that is

A)convenient
B)holds good hours
C)possibly separates sick appointments from well visits
D)clean

Visit them and you will be able to tell right away the ones where the receptionists are rude and then run... fast.

Might I suggest a pediatrician with small children? We went to one when our firstborn was 7 weeks old, and he said Erik was too young to have an ear infection. Guess what. He wasn't.

We switched pediatricians, and one day went to visit her about teething problems. She said, "As your doctor, I can tell you the symptoms you describe are not being caused by teething. As a mother, I can tell you unambiguously that they are." We stuck with her as long as we lived there.

I don't have any suggestions for questions (but I'm closely watching responses and Im in the same boat) but I totally LOL'd at your childhood tendency to place things in any, and all, holes on your head.

My biggest childhood drama was when I decided to jump rope with a pair of jeans...on a marble floor. My chin got the negative end of that experience. I very much remember that trip to the hospital while bleeding though many many washcloths on the way.
Oh, how I hope my child isn't just a bit smarter than I :p

If you know anyone who works in OB at the hospital where you'll be delivering, ask them which pediatrician they take their own children to. In our case, I asked the nursery charge nurse for recommendations, because she works with the pediatricians on a day-to-day basis, knows who makes good, calm decisions, etc. She steered us to a great practice. When you interview doctors, you may want to find out if you'll always see the same pediatrician or just get "whomever", if you'll see the pediatrician or a pediatric nurse practitioner for well-baby appointments (the PNP can be a great choice for normal care), if they have open appointment slots every day to handle sick kids, how they handle phone calls to the practice (Can you reach someone right away or do you have to wait until 4 p.m. when they do call-backs? One local practice here charges a fee for problem calls!!!!!), if they have office hours outside of M-F 9-5 (One group practice in my town has a full day of Saturday and Sunday appointments, as well as being open a couple of evenings a week). If you are planning on breastfeeding, you should ask what percentage of their patients breastfeed and if they offer any breastfeeding support, such as lactation consultants on staff (The practice in my town with the Saturday and Sunday hours employs 4 lactation consultants.)

I had to laugh reading about your inserting food into various body openings. My little brother once put seeds (not exactly sure where he got those seeds) in his ear. These went unnoticed for several days until he started grabbing his ear and crying. We look in there to find seeds literally sprouting in his ear! What kids do! :)

There are questions to ask of the pediatricians themselves, and questions that are best asked of their patients (well, their patients' parents), if you know any. By all means, ask the doctors about their experience and expertise. Whether you plan to breastfeed or bottlefeed, find out what the pediatrician's preference is. Ask if they're a standalone or a practice and what the policy is if you need to make an appointment and the doctor isn't available as soon as you'd like. Ask them what their office hours are and how they prefer to handle after-hours questions and concerns (because babies NEVER spike a 104-degree fever during office hours).

But find some parents, if you can, and learn: what's the average wait to actually see the doctor? (Pediatricians seem to be the WORST at actually getting you in on time; I never see ours without at least a 45 minute wait -- and that's an improvement over the other option in my town!) Most pediatricians are great with the kids, but how are they with the parents? Does the doctor share details voluntarily or just jot notes and hmm and make you ask? Of course they answer the phone when they're on call, but do they get surly about it?

Your motherly intuition (yes, you already have it) will tell you whether or not the pediatrician is right, wrong or indifferent for BSparl. However, it's probably good to interview a few backups just in case. :)

P.S. I never stuck anything in my head crevices. Maybe that is why I lack creativity. Hmm...

1) Is the MD part of a group or solo practice. I ask this because of vacation and weekend availability. Trust me, kids issue do not always happen Mon-Fri during business hours.

2) Does the office have weekend hours

3)Does the MD mirror your beliefs, whatever they maybe, concerning holistic practices.

4)Sometimes a large group practice is convenient, but will your child receive a full comprehensive exam. Will subtle findings be missed?

5)Are all the MD's young and be available for the next 18 years or planning on retiring soon.

6) Does the office have an isolated sick child waiting room?

I hope these give you a general idea of questions to ask

Here's a good article:

http://www.americanpregnancy.org/planningandpreparing/choosingpediatrician.html

Regarding the wait at the pediatrician's office: Even though it's a PIA, always try to get the first appointment of the day or the first one after lunch. Later in the day, you have to deal with all the people who were late and made the doctor late, the routine appointments that became non-routine and took too long, etc. It's a PIA to get to the doctor so early, but it's worth it!

Its ALL about the hours.

What are their normal hours, but more importantly how do they handle after hours.

There's nothing worse than your kid spiking a fever Friday night knowing your only option is the emergency room until Monday morning. It never fails - your kid WILL get sick when no one's open.

Our ped is part of a large group - which has its own downfalls, BUT has after hours for sick kids until 9pm every night and is also open on Sat & Sun. There is also a ped on call at all hours and I have always gotten a same day appt for a sick kid.

I never bothered interviewing because I wanted that practice strictly for the hours and I've been happy.

Smarties up my nose over here (not now, but when I was....6. Oh the shame).

I can't really help you with the pediatrician questions, but for a doctor in general, I'd want to know how they handle emergencies outside office hours. Would they be the person to call, or would it be someone else?

Good luck!

Go with your gut. :)

Since you're thinking maybe, down the road doing Trial Net, it's good to ask if your ped-to-be knows about clinical studies, and chronic illness -- but a negative answer doesn't mean a bad ped. I'm sure that my pediatrician as a child had no clue... but he was very, very good.

If it's important to you, ask about their stances on nursing and vaccines. If not, don't.

Just in my experiences with my godchildren, definitely ask about after-hours care, and availability of same-day appointments for sick kids. You also may want to decide what children's hospital you'd need in a worse-case scenario, and then look for a ped who has privleges there. just in case, you know, BSparl decides that Cheerios are best consumed through noses, and that it's super fun to fight with swords... while in a tree. (Or, if like me, BSparl decides to go running down a newly-waxed floor. Only to fall on her wrist. And break it.)

1.) Some docs look great on paper and sound great when you speak with them, but it may take until you see them interact with your child before you're sure they are a good fit for your family. We initially went with a nationally known pediatrician in the Denver metro area. During our daughter's first follow-up exam, she spent the entire time on the exam table. This didn't sit well with me. We promptly switched to a wonderful pediatrician who was also the mother of two young children... she held Janie the entire time we were in the exam room. I literally cried when she told us she was moving to Indiana 4 years later. 2) You may also want to explore how ya'll feel about vaccinations and their scheduling... some docs are more supportive of different approaches than others.

There are some good questions here! For me the biggest things were
1) Do you feel comfortable in the office?
2) Call the office, does the perosn who answers the phone seem nice? They are the gate keepers to all nurses and doctors.
3) Look for other parents who go there! Ask them........How long it takes to "get in", Are the nurses nice?, how long does it take to get test results back?,
4) make an appointment with the doctor. If you feel rushed they will rush when you are in there w/ Bspral!
Good luck!

People have already suggested asking how cross-coverage is handled.

Some people want a young doctor with young kids so they're going through things at the same time. Others want someone older who has the perspective of time (and more experience). It depends on your perspective.

I think it's important to find someone with a similar life-philosophy.

And might I suggest that you not limit yourself to a pediatrician. Family Practice physicians will treat people of all ages. When you get sick and have to see your internist, and your husband gets sick and has to see his interist, and the baby gets the same thing and you're sick and have to drag yourself out again to the pediatrician, it's a bit much. Family Practice docs can treat all of you, and take your health into account when treating your baby. Also, there's not that awkwardness when kids hit their teen years and feel too big to see a baby doc.

Kerri -

I'm sending you an email. I've got a recommendation... :)

N

Aside from the hours, etc, we asked them what kind of minor traumas they could handle in the office (stitches, broken bones, etc). One told us we'd just be sent to urgent care since those things backed up the schedule. Okay ... good to know.

Another one was about vaccines. My husband (the diabetic in the family) works in health care and vaccines were not a question: we were getting them. However, we asked our candidates how they felt about people who chose not to. It gave us a lot of insight about how they would work with us on things we didn't see eye-to-eye on. The answers included a) "We wouldn't get along very well. I am not very tolerant of people who don't vaccinate or who smoke." b) "We don't see patients who don't vaccinate." c)I strongly recommend vaccines and we would have a VERY long talk about it, but ultimately that's your decision. Quite a variety and, like I said, very insightful.

Also, I was looking for someone who's temperment would be a good match for mine. I have a tendency to get high-strung and dramatic and knew that would escalate when I had a sick child. So, I was drawn to those who appeared more patient and laid-back and soft-spoken, knowing that's what I'd need under those circumstances. (That's where the gut feeling came in.)

Something that my sister learned with her baby... Her pediatrician doesn't prescribe or recommend OTC cold meds for babies under age 2. She will only do it if the cold lasts more than a week or so. She advises to use only saline drops. So you might want to ask for the pediatrician's stance on how to deal with colds to see if that fits your beliefs.

I think your instincts will guide you through this process :) Interview a few pediatricians and see where it takes you. It also pays off to ask around, which doctors are great with children AND parents. You will also probably be told which ones to avoid like the plague at this time as well! :D

I'll never understand the fascination that children have of stuffing things into their head holes LOL. I have had to retrieve many things from my youngest childs nose when she was younger. She stuffed a raisin up there one time (which I didn't know about) but did come flying out when she sneezed while watching TV (I saw it shoot across the room). She has stuff pieces of cheese up there and chunks of weiner - I got the cheese out, but the weiner required a trip to the doc who was trying not to laugh the entire time he was removing it. The last thing she ever shoved up there was one of those craft googly eyes. I had no clue she had done it, until she started crying (quite some time after) and rubbing her nose - she was doing this intermittently throughout the day and I couldn't figure out what her problem was. Then I layed her down on the bed and looked up her nose.

Yeah, had a hard time believing MY googly eyes when I pulled that out of her nostril ....

She was also the one to doodle on the walls all over the house and flush things down the toilet when I wasn't looking. My older daughter never did any of this stuff! LOL.

Yep, parenthood is a wild ride Kerri! You'll have a blast .... and watch out for those googly eyes ... :D

Office hours and how weekend/evening rotations are handled (other doctors in the same practice, other doctors in other practices) are great questions - but likely can be answered by the office manager.
While I don't know the best way to ask the question, the key concern for me is the overall philosophy of care.
How aggressive, active do you want your pediatrician to be? Are you willing to be told, let's just wait and monitor a concern? or will you want a test and full-blown medical involvement? Does every cold require an antibiotic (I hope not), or are you willing to accept a doctor who is willing to accept that while cold's are painful for parents, they are inevitable?
Someone else already mentioned holistic care, and that thought if similar and related to the questions above.)
Sorry, that I don't know how to help you work through what answers you want and then figure out how to phrase the necessary questions.

One final thought: I greatly value the PA (could be a NP) that is part of our General Practitioner's practice (we don't use a pediatrician). A majority of our sick patient visits can be handled by a PA, and we don't need to wait for the Doctor's schedule. (That was true until the PA became busier than the doctors - we've had to schedule with other doctors in the practice because the PA and our doctor were both booked.)

Good luck, 'cause I think there is a lot of that is needed in this process.
Oh! and everything will be fine, even if you don't hit a home run on selecting a physician the first time. It's a long journey.
Blessing to the three of you!

I haven't read all the comments, but wholeheartedly agree with Ralph. Our first pediatrician did not have children and I didn't realize how much of a difference it made until we moved and our new pediatrician did have children.

Definitely ask how they handle phone calls/questions/messages. Some offices will take all the calls they receive in the morning and return them over lunch. And then same thing in the afternoon. So if it's Friday afternoon and BSparl has a rash and you need to know if you should come in today or if it's nothing to be worried about, you kind of need to know before the office closes. Does that make sense? (Bonus to living in a small town with three pediatricians: I could call the office and talk to a nurse right away to troubleshoot or determine if i needed to bring a sick kid in. That won't happen in a big city.)

Another thing: find out how they feel about parental suggestions. For example, No. 1 has had a chronic cough for years. We took him to the pedi many, many times and she seemed to brush it off or say it was only post-nasal drip and to give him OTC allergy meds. We did some research and seemed like he had some sort of mild asthma. We brought it up to the pedi and she still brushed it off. But we pushed it and finally they prescribed some asthma meds for him. Seemed to work. When we moved to PHX our new pedi suggested we see a pulmonologist and listens to everything we say/question/wonder. If she ever moves I will sob! I called one day last week with a question and when she called back we sat on the phone for probably 10 minutes discussing options to try to get No. 1's cough to disappear. She was willing to try several things and called in two prescriptions right then. So that kind of attitude is something to keep in mind, too.

Good luck!

A lot of people have already said this, but hours are key. No child gets sick between 9 and 4. You need a place that is open late and on weekends. They are out there, you just need to find them. They are usualy larger groups of doctors, so you are bound to find a peds. you like in that size of an office.

I would recommend selecting your pediatrician prior to delivering. Many private pediatricians will come to the hospital to do their own admissions/discharge physicals on newborns. Also, find out where your chosen pediatrician has admitting priveleges. Finally, if possible, you may want to consider trying to find a female. My 5 year old already prefers the female physician in our pediatrician's office.

HAHA! I actually laughed out loud when I read about you putting stuff in the holes in your head. Once my little brother put marshmallows (the little ones) in his ear and my parents didn't find out until they saw a couple of ants making their way to his ear. Another time he stuck q-tips in both ears and was running around with them, and decided to lay down on a pillow while they were still in there. *eeek* It makes me cringe thinking about it. He lost some hearing in his left ear! I hope BSparl doesn't do those kinds of things!! Good luch. (I don't have kids yet, so I'm not sure what kind of questions to ask the ped)

Speaking as a pediatrician, all of the above suggestions are great!

You definitely want to know what hours they keep. You also want to know who answers the phones after-hours. Some practices will employ a service that uses RNs to answer your 2 AM questions, others will answer the calls themselves. Where I work (an academic practice), our resident night float answers the triage calls.

Some large practices don't assign patients. This is both good and bad. It's good because all of the docs in your practice will know your child in case your child comes in for a sick visit or (hopefully not) needs to be in the hospital. It's bad because you run the risk of not developing that nice close relationship with one doctor.

Also ask the doc how long his/her office staff has been there. The longer the staff has been around, the less turnover and happier work environment.

I don't think (practice) size matters - it's whatever is best and most convenient for your family.

Hope that helps!

i think it all starts with what you and chris want... think about all the possible things you may want to do.. or not do... like previous commenters... breastfeeding, vaccinations, etc. if you have a boy (in the future), what are your feelings on circumcision? what about where/how the baby will sleep.. in a crib? in your bed? what age do you want to start solids at? and what solids do you want to do first? do you want to treat each illness with antibiotics, or be more selective?

think of all those issues... and more... and ask the doctor's opinion on each one. you want to find a doc whose philosophy most closely matches yours... whatever yours may be. trust me, if you are committed to something like breastfeeding, and your doc is constantly handing you formula samples... it will not be a good thing.

when your little one is sick, you will be stressed out to begin with... having to fight with your doc to get what you deem appropriate care should be the last thing on your mind.

I'm glad my baby doc days are over! It has changed since I raised my sons, but as I review the comments to your article, they are good questions and pretty much cover what you need to ask the doctor. Stephanie

I can not remember any of the questions I had written on a sheet of paper, when we were interviewing pediatricians over 21 years ago. I do remember that for some, I had to pull out the sheet and ask every question! Then there was the one that wanted to charge us for an office visit (didn't even interview them). The last one we interviewed talked to us for a while, then asked if we had any questions. I pulled out the list, and she had answered all but one which was really a minor question. She became our pediatrician for all three of my kids, even through her practice change up until we moved. When we moved, she personally copied all of our records so that we could hand them to the next doctor, rather than having to pay. Ask parents of newborn babies up to about 1 year old that you might know what they asked during their interview process and choose the ones that matter to you.

I don't have any kids, but all my friends do :)

Something that has been important to them has been the doctor's availability. Who do you call at midnight when the baby has a fever and you can't decide whether or not she needs to go to the ER? How easy is it to get an appointment, how quickly do they return your call - that type of thing... Or so I've heard.

Try calling the office. See if you get put on hold.

This doesn't have anything to do with helping you find a pediatrian, because I honestly have no idea how to help on that one, but I just wanted to say how encouraging your blog has been to me. I am 28 years old and have been married for 5 years. My husband and I am looking to start a family probably within the next year or so. I've never known anyone who's been through a pregancy with diabetes, and it's comforting to actually see someone go through the process (highs and lows). Of course I am scared to death to go through the experience, but it's something I've always wanted. Thanks Kerri for sharing your experiences so honestly. God Bless you, your husband, and your baby girl!

It's always hard I think to chose a pedi.
We loved our pediatrician before Izzie was born, we even met with her a few times.She came with the highest recommendations.

Once Izzie was here we went through several appointments (jaundice, cleft) and we were left feeling like we had clearly made a wrong choice.
The short story is we ended up with a new Dr. in the practice because I was so distraught and I wanted Izzie to be seen NOW. I loved, loved, loved the new doc. I never would have guessed it. We asked for her records to be switched to this doc and we have never looked back. Yes she was less experienced and I didn't know anyone who could give me a recommendation but we love her.
I think it is important like others have said to have personalities that "mesh". It is important to be on the same page about the "big" issues ie. breast/bottle, vaccinations/delayed/no vaccines, Chronic illness, birth defects, antibiotics/no antibiotics, office hours, emergent care.

To me the biggest one is, are they willing to listen to what I have to say as the parent (since I know my child best), and will they take that into account when making the assessment.

Of course you will do what is best for Bsparl, we all know that!

We chose our first pediatrician because the parents of the baby in the next bassinet in the NICU had clearly researched everything, and he was so early that we hadn't, and they lived out near us... so we went with their doc. It worked out wonderfully :)

And the reason it worked out wonderfully: the person who answered the phone and the nurse in the office were *fantastic*. Ever since then, I've noticed that my experiences with pediatricians have more to do with the office staff and the nurses than with the actual docs. So, in your great spreadsheet of pros-and-cons, put a column for how nice the person who answered the phone was. Trust me, it matters.

One thing that has really helped me over the years with my kids has been having a nurse from my pediatrician's office call back to answer any questions I have about an illness. My office generally makes a call back within an hour. Sometimes it's not necessary to bring your child in.....a good discussion with a nurse about what is going on, how to treat it, and what to keep an eye out for is often really helpful.

Haven't read what others have said but see how you feel when calling the office and talking to the staff. They will be who you talk to 90% of the time. Are they rude? or are they friendly? You can probably ask them many of your questions and get a good feel.

Also, how many other dr's work in the office? And at each well child visit will you see YOUR dr or one of the others in the practice? I find that a multi dr practice is nicest as eventually you do get to meet all the dr's during sicknesses but I do appreciate being able to see our own dr for most visits.

Mostly though - ask friends and people living locally who they use. That is usually the best options.

OH, and don't rule out people like Family Practitioners. Myself and the kids all see the same dr. It's nice because the dr my son sees now, actually delivered him.

My mother always told me, "You never know how good your pediatrician is, or how much you like him until a crisis." Boy, was she right. When my 7 year old daughter was diagnosed T1D last year our pediatrician was great. First, when I explained the symptoms over the phone, he agreed to see me immediately. Since he is affiated with Children's Hospital in Boston, that's where we went for three days, which I think was so much better than going to a closer but less experienced hospital. He visited us, on the weekend, while in the hospital just to make sure we were ok. And he convinced us to continue our care with Joslin (which is fantastic, as you know). I have to admit, he's not very warm and fuzzy, mostly just down to business. But the one time we really needed an advocate he was there.

I guess the only advice I have is to find our what hospital they're affiliated with, and then if you're unhappy, just switch till you find one that fits.

PS Yours was the first blog I found post dx.

Well my advice may not be great. But I have gone through a couple pedis for my girls. And when you find one--the one who is the perfect fit for your family--you just know. Your report is great with them. You get along. He/she listens to you. You trust them. You don't feel like another number, you feel like they care. You will know. Trust me.

Our pedi is great and when we went to him we just knew. And, it only took 1 visit for him to dx Syd with Type 1 at the age of 4. He just knew. I have read it often takes several visits to get a child dx with T1.

So, go with your gut. It works! Good luck!

We didn't actually pick a pediatrician -- we were going to go with our family practice doctor since we really like her, but while Kiedis was in the NICU their head pediatrician came and helped with his issues. She was so nice and kind and understanding that when he was finally discharged, we decided to go with her. She knew his issues already, and he liked her. So we'll probably take the Bellybean to her as well to keep it all in the family. Sometimes the right doctor just finds you. :)

You've gotten lots of great advice already. The only thing I would add has to do with the time of delivery and being in the hospital afterwards. My OB had told me that standard practice for babies of diabetic moms, was to send baby to the NICU for a little bit to closely monitor blood sugar and things like that. I had chosen our pediatrician for two reasons: 1. He is a neonatologist, and he used to run the NICU in our hospital, so he was well versed in the policies and procedures there. 2. He was my pediatrician when I was a child, so he knew my medical history, as well as my four siblings.
I would ask them about how they handle hospital situations: do they do daily rounds themselves or is it the doctor on call from the practice? Will you get a daily report while you're in the hospital on how baby is? My ped would be in my room every morning after his rounds to give me an update on my son (he ended up staying in the NICU for a week due to some other complications I had). I woke up to him every morning. After I was d/c'd from the hospital, I had a phone call at 6:00 every morning until CJ came home. I would be visiting CJ in the NICU very late at night, and the phone would ring and it was the ped checking on him. I chose this doctor knowing he did not have the best bedside manner. He is a specialist, and I am more interested in the specialty and the knowledge that goes along with it than I am in his individual personality (I feel the same way about my endo). On the other hand, my s-i-l takes her son to the same pediatrician, and she requires a LOT of hand-holding. She is not as impressed with the ped because he is not a hand holder. He's very quick, but thorough, and to the point.

First -recommendations - do you know other people who attend the same practice and are they happy? - we made our selection of a practice (not doctor) based on recommendations from several of my "mommy mentors" and were delighted with the results.
Second - I asked these questions:
I ask a lot of questions - how do you feel about that?
How do you deal with middle of the night emergencies?
When a parent seems unduly worried, what is your approach?
One of the things I like about all of the doctors at our practice (several of whom we've spoken with in the middle of the night - sometimes more than once in the same night) is that they all couch the discussion in terms of what we are seeing, and what we should be concerned about seeing. They treat us like we are smart people - I cannot abide a patronizing doctor, nor one who talks to me as if they are assuming the details are too complex. As someone with a finger on the pulse of her health, I'm guessing that will be important to you too.


Agree with the following - hours, who answers calls, how many doctors and will you always see your own, will you be given a choice of who to see if yours is out. Also possibly relevant - is your doctor full time? (Ours has a young child, and only works 3 days a week - we know that increases the chance that we will need to see someone on one of her off days, but it is a small practice and we like the other doctors, so it is okay.)
Finally - our doctor's office offers lollipops after the appointment. This may sound weird - but that was the final thing that sold me - the idea that even in the heart of a healthy environment, there was room for a little treat, a little whimsy, a little fun to make it feel like a "happy place." In case you can't tell, we lover our peds practice. Hope you find a great one too!!

Here are things I would consider:

-Proximity of their office to your home.

-Evening or weekends peds hours where you can see a doctor from the practice.

-Convenient Care hours (if the peds clinic isn't open).

We called and asked who was accepting patients and asked a little about her. If your hospital/clinic has profiles on their website, check them out.

We didn't meet ours ahead of time but I really, really like her. She's laid back, but she takes action when there is cause for concern. (She caught Q's diabetes quickly and also R's heart defect.)

When you are in the hospital, pay attention to the pediatrician who does rounds. We really liked the doc who attended to our first child each morning, but her office was located across town.

And last bit of advice, you can always switch. If you see an on-call doc that you really like, there is no reason why you can't switch.

Also ask the advice of other parents. Though take it with a grain of salt. I know parents who LOVE our pediatrician and others you don't like her at all.

You'll know when it's right.

Do you offer weekend hours?

What should I do if I have a question or concern when the office is closed?

How long will I have to wait for a sick child visit?

What hospitals are you affiliated with? What hospital would my child need to be admitted to, if that was ever necessary?

You guys are insanely awesome - THANK YOU for all of the very helpful comments! I'm pulling out these tips and Chris and I are going to look them over tonight. And then plan our attack.

Poor potential pediatricians. They won't even see us coming. :)

Hours... and who's available after hours (by phone? pager? how?).

I'd go sit in the waiting room and watch how long people are actually waiting. I am currently looking to replace my family physician because I have NEVER waiting less than an hour and half past my appointment time to see her. That's ridiculous, so I'm finding a new doctor.

The front desk is important. They are the front lines, the people you have to get through to get to the doctor. If they aren't friendly, it's a no go. Go with your gut feeling and above all make sure they are easily reachable. Make sure they aren't so big that it is hard to get a same day appointment. Cause when your baby is really sick, trust me, you want an appointment THAT day. I like the smaller offices. Good luck! Pick one before she comes, you'll want your new doc there every step of the way!

P.S. You are holding up two fingers - it's always two fingers :)

Something close to home is ideal. You do not want to have to haul a sick child into Boston for every visit. An affiliation with Children's is a must, though. Also, I have found that a practice that answers your questions/books same day appts for sick visits during the initial phone call is the best way to go. When you are working/have a sick child and cannot wait by the phone, you will be glad about this. My practice has 5 MD's, a PA and several nurse practitioners. While my kids have their favorites, which we use for annual physicals, I am happy that there are enough Dr's in the office for us to see someone asap. Also, our practice has someone at the local hospital for rounds every morning. My daughters saw someone from the practice right after they were born.

Mine is the best.

Everyone has said such smart things - I would just add that I think a good pediatrician/pediatric NP is looking at the whole family and not just the kid. You want a ped who will ask how *you're* doing as well as Bsparl - b/c especially if you're breastfeeding, your health and the baby's health are very intimately tied together. And it's not just about the kid - if you are going batty from lack of sleep and feel alone and desperate, you need someone who will help you figure out what you can change in your life, not just tell you, I'm sorry, that sucks, they don't sleep.

I love that our PNP never seems to be rushing me along and always makes sure to ask me how I'm doing...

I think one really important thing is what their basic office procedures are. So, for example, can they squeeze you in if you have a minor emergency? Do they have a nurse practitioner that you can see for more minor issues? How do they work in terms of billing and scheduling? All of these more administrative things may seem mundane, but some practices have really odd office practices these days, so it's good to know those things ahead of time.

"I've noticed that my experiences with pediatricians have more to do with the office staff and the nurses than with the actual docs. So, in your great spreadsheet of pros-and-cons, put a column for how nice the person who answered the phone was. Trust me, it matters."

I just wanted to reiterate what someone said above because it really CAN make a *huge* difference.

For my kids, we actually have a pediatrician and a PNP. (My teenager daughter prefers the PNP). But the staff at the clinic we go to sucks so bad that I've considered changing many time. The *only* reason I haven't is because we absolutely love the pediatrician and PNP.

I've commented to them both several times that their staff makes it almost not worth it to go to them. :( They just apologize. This is a larger clinic and I don't think the docs/PNPs have a say in the staff unfortunately. :(

Fortunately not *all* the staff is bad, but unfortunately most is. :(

Having two boys myself, I would ask other parents in your area about their experiences with their child's pediatrician. You will get all kinds of opinions. Some like their doctor, some don't, some will tell you to look for a man or a women doctor, some will say get a Dr. who has his/her own kids. I would agree. It's amazing how much you think you are the expert on kids, then you have your own and boy(or girl), you soon realize that you do not have all the answers. We interviewed our pediatician before our children was born, we liked him in the interview, but he turned out to be not the best doctor. I also had a doctor who didn't have kids. She did a great job recommending specialists, but she wasn't much help with my questions. Ask as many parents as you can. Then use your best judgement. You will probably be in a group of doctors and will see others doctors in the group. You might like one of the other Drs. in the group better than your own doctor. Make sure the group has morning and evening, and weekend walk-in hours. Kids get sick and you need to see the doctor today...The good news is that you are the parent, doing the best for your child and if your not happy, change Doctors. Best of luck!

Hey lots of great ideas from the comments above me here. Here are my thoughts as raiser of 3 girls so far, one T1:
1. Hours - when are they open? How soon from when you call can you see a dr.? Also, do they have CRNPs who can see kiddos too when they are booked.
2. Emergency - where do they recommend kiddos go when they need ER care? Do you like the hospital they are referring to?
3. Referrals from your friends with kids - who do they like?
4. Front desk people - they are the ones who will return your call, tell you what to do sometimes and be your first line of contact. If you don't like them, get out.
5. I like your awareness of someone who knows about T1 and TrialNet. At least if they haven't heard of them or aren't that knowledgeable, they are willing to learn.

She's coming! She's coming!

I can't help with the pediatrician questions - but luckily you've got plenty of advice here already. I can comment on things going into holes in my head though - mine was a button up my nose. Or so I'm told - I honestly don't remember doing it. :)

I actually remember interviewing pediatricians - 14 years ago. I don't recall all the questions, though I did have a list. I did base my choice on the fact that the doctor had children, was kind, had a very nice sense of humor and would very shortly have a female pediatrician on staff. My decision was solely based on intuition and I have never regretted my choice. The female doctor did leave the practice to start her own allergy focused practice, so my daughter still sees her annually thanks to the three fat cats we have.

I hope all is well and that bsprarl arrives with a healthy cry, open hands and a happy heart.

Take care,
Joan

Since, you won't have to ask if they are male or female... I'd go with: Do you give stickers or lollipops?

Are you against antibiotics? What is your SOP for when a kid gets an earache?

When visiting, be sure you're comfortable. is there a well AND a sick waiting room? Are there yucky, icky, germ-happy toys just waiting for your kids to play with?

Who does the doctor send specialties to? I mean, if your baby does need a specialist, does the doctor like to be a know-it-all or will he/she send you to someone who knows more?

Okay, so maybe you wouldn't ask it that way and be rude, but it's good to know.

We've moved a lot, and finding a doctor is NOT easy. It can be trial and error. You might find yourself switching doctors once or twice before you find the perfect match. :)

...oh, goodlooking doesn't hurt, either! ;D
Take care,
Bethanne

You've gotten a lot of great advice - hours, hospital affiliations, cross-over care, etc. But I only saw one on life philosophy. How do you feel about immunizations, breast-feeding and when to start solid foods. I interviewed one pediatrician (before my son was born 18 years ago) that wanted to introduce solids at one month. Did not fit with my philosophy concerning food allergies and he basically told me I was wrong. Needless to say, he didn't join our team.

I would highly recommend talking with your new doc before BSparl is born.

You're doing great!!!

Dian

Ask him/her how they would handle being buried alive in a shallow grave in Iraq.

As a supplement to a real life pediatrician, I suggest this site as well:
http://www.seattlechildrens.org/seattle-mama-doc/

I was just wondering, she is almost here, when is she going to get a name? Hope you guys are thinking about this because it's coming up quick. LOL

I wish you well

Robert

I haven't read the replies, but if you're planning on breastfeeding, make sure he/she is supportive and encouraging. Don't let the doc tell you to switch to formula at the littlest bump in the road.

Robert - LOL! Never fear. The baby has a name. We're just keeping it offline for the time being. :)

When you visit the office, see if they have a waiting room for sick kids and a waiting room for well kids. And if they have a newborn room, that's even better.

If you have any things that you know are going to be concerns for you, ask those--like if you want an extended or delayed vaccination schedule, see how the pediatrician feels about that. If you want to breastfeed, try to get a feel on how the doctor will be able to support that or if they're more inclined to rush to formula right away. Be sure the doctor and nurses and PAs listen to you. Be sure that you FEEL listened to.

I think mostly what you want to check out is how well you get along with the pediatrician. If you're comfy with them, that's what matters!

I found a pediatrician interview sheet on babycenter.com My husband and I are interviewing a pediatrician this afternoon and the questions on the sheet seem to be good ones. I hope this helps! Good luck!

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