Written by Natasha Burgert MD
“Who is going to be the doctor for your new baby?”
Your OB wants to know. Your friends have asked. Your mother is wondering.
Finding a pediatrician is on the “to-do” list of all expectant mothers and fathers. New families often begin the search for a potential baby doctor by asking for recommendations from their OB doctor, family, and friends.
Some families begin by looking at the American Academy of Pediatrics website.Regardless of how you find a pediatrician, truly determining if a doctor is going to be a good match for your family is often done by interviewing.
I have seen plenty of glowing mothers-to-be sitting in my office with the seemingly standard “interview sheet” from babycenter.com or WhatToExpect.com.
Parents come to my office with a “recommended question list” because they don’t really know what to ask. This is certainly understandable since, for most families, interviewing a doctor is new territory.
But although these lists of questions are a good start, I don’t think they get to the heart of the matter.
What most parents really want to know is if a pediatrician is likable. Is this person going to be someone I can ask questions? Do we have something in common? Are we going to get along?
Compatibility is what most parents are searching for.
Here are 5 questions I would ask a potential baby doctor during an interview.
1. “Tell me about your office.”
Office hours and locations, contact numbers, hospital affiliations, and basic biographical information is fairly standard on every medical practice website. Use the web to get the basics, but let the doctor tell you where he thinks his office really shines.
This open-ended approach gives the doctor an opportunity to say what he thinks is the most important, interesting, or significant about the place where he works.
If the doctor does not cover any specific question you have about the function of the office, then ask.
2. “Why did you choose to become a pediatrician?”
The million dollar question. This is an opportunity for you to learn about the person behind the white coat. Of all the medical specialties, why did she choose to take care of kids?
3. “What are your thoughts on antibiotics and vaccinations?”
For most doctors in pediatric healthcare, antibiotics and vaccinations are common medical interventions.
How a doctor chooses to use antibiotics, and for what illnesses, does vary. With the increasing concern of antibiotic resistance and super-infections, having a physician who can clearly define when antibiotic use is appropriate for your child is important.
Vaccinations are a fundamental building block for child health. A physician’s beliefs and attitudes towards vaccinations will effect the recommendations they may or may not provide.
Also, some physicians will not see patients if the recommended vaccination schedule is not followed. Allowing a doctor to openly express his opinion on immunizations can begin productive dialog about this very important topic.
4. “What do you love about your job?”
Does this doctor have a passion for the underserved? Does he love to see kids with chronic illnesses, like asthma or ADHD? Does she love to teach?
Asking a doctor to share the best part of his job may reveal a common interest. Or, allow you to determine if your family’s needs will be best supported.
5. “What do you like to do outside of work?”
Pediatricians often look alike on paper. We all go to medical school, complete a pediatric residency, and get certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.
Asking the doctor what she enjoys doing outside of work may be enough to make the person on paper become a new partner in the care of your family.
Good luck in your search!
Dr. Burgert is a pediatrician. She works at Pediatrics Associates in Kansas City, MO . She is a distance runner and enjoys road races around the city. She also has a passion for travel that will certainly lead to many memorable family vacations with her husband and two children. And, of course, she bleeds Husker red. Dr. Burgert regularly blogs at kckidsdoc.com