A lot of first-time parents make it a priority to interview pediatricians to find the right fit for their growing family. Other parents trust the recommendations of family and friends when choosing a health care provider. As you will quickly learn, a good relationship with your pediatrician is vital when caring for your kids, especially in the newborn phase when there are frequent visits and questions. While I have had patients from both parties, I truly believe it is beneficial and important to interview potential candidates before your baby is born.
There are certain questions that you can address when interviewing a pediatrician that will help you decide whether they are the right fit for your family and your lifestyle. Furthermore, some people’s personalities just don’t jive and that’s okay too! Better to know before getting too close in the relationship.
So without further ado, here my top 10 questions to ask a potential pediatrician. In case there are any prospective parents wondering where West Pediatrics stands on these issues, I have included my answers below.
1. General office information: Hours? Location? Size? Separate areas for sick and well children?
We have office hours from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays at the Birth Center of Baton Rouge, otherwise your home is my office! No sick and germ-y waiting rooms…other than those germs your kids already have. ;)
2. How are after-hours illnesses handled, including Saturdays and Sundays?
Parents who enroll in West Pediatrics have 24/7 access to me via cell phone. Whether it’s a phone call, text or FaceTime, parents can reach out whenever they are in need. If we decided that an in-person visit is required, I offer after-hours house calls. For patients who enroll in the All-Inclusive Plan, after-hours visits are included in your membership with no added cost. For patients in the All-Access Plan, there is a $275 after-hours house visit fee.
3. Can I get a same-day appointment for a sick child?
Of course! Typically, I schedule appointments the same day and at your convenience, for both sick vists and check ups. When I am not available for a 24-hour period or longer, which is very rare, I ensure that a board certified pediatrician will be available to you and your family for any questions or issues that may require an in person visit.
4. How long will I wait to be seen on an average day?
Since there’s no waiting room, you won’t be waiting! We’ll schedule a time that’s convenient for you, so you “wait” in the comfort of your own home. If a delay is inevitable (sigh, Baton Rouge traffic….) parents can always expect a heads-up.
5. What is the average amount of time spent with the child during a typical visit?
I always allot one hour for well-child exams and 30-45 minutes for sick visits. That is the total time spent with the doctor, since there are no nurses or medical assistants at West Pediatrics. In a rush? No worries, we do quick visits too. :)
6. Does the doctor accept my insurance plan?
The short answer is no, insurance is not accepted at West Pediatrics. Unfortunately, the goals and mission of West Pediatrics are fundamentally at odds with the current insurance system. However, insurance policies may allow for reimbursement of fees paid to the practice. The reimbursement process will be between you and your insurance provider, but West Pediatrics supplies patients with detailed billing statements upon request for submission to your insurance company's claims department. West Pediatrics will be available to provide whatever support it can throughout the process.
7. What hospital(s) does the doctor admit to and visit?
I admit and see well babies at Woman’s Hospital. If your baby is sick or needs to be in the Neonatal ICU, since I have privileges, I am happy to come by and visit. However, the incredible neonatalogists will be the actual physicians caring for your little one during that time. Likewise, I have access to records at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital and am therefore able to visit if your child needs hospitalization, but please note that the hospitalists will be the ones to write the orders and officially care for your child while he/she is admitted.
8. Is there someone who can help with breastfeeding issues?
Definitely! Me! While I do not have official IBCLC certification, I have received many hours of breastfeeding instruction and have worked with fabulous lactation consultants throughout my ten years in the medical field. In addition, I have breastfed two infants and understand firsthand the difficulties and frustrations that can arise. When there is a situation that I cannot help with, I will refer you to a trusted lactation consultant for more advice.
9. What is the doctor’s philosophy on recommended immunizations/vaccinations?
I am a fervent advocate of the importance of vaccines. However, I understand that parents are subjected to a plethora of information and misinformation about vaccines. It is my goal to meet with you and discuss the issue until you are comfortable with vaccines. I am certainly willing to provide alternative schedules for vaccines and willing to work with parents on this issue. Please see our blog for more information on this issue.
10. What is the doctor’s philosophy regarding antibiotics?
Antibiotics are a VERY important medical intervention, however, they are not required every time your child is sick. I believe it is very important to use antibiotics judiciously so as to avoid antibiotic resistance as well as unwanted side effects that may occur. With a few exceptions, an in-person visit will likely be required in order to obtain an antibiotic prescription.
I hope you find these questions and answers helpful! I welcome the opportunity to discuss my practice with you and how it can be a fit for your family. Certainly feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. As I love to say, #bringonthebabies!