Look, I’m going to be honest here: I don’t take my son to the pediatrician unless there’s good reason. And by ‘good’ I mean: illness that he cannot simply ride out, broken bone, or blood spurting forth – something along those lines. I’m not the biggest fan of Western medicine in general, but I certainly have a healthy respect for it and understand its place in my life and our world. That being said, many people do see pediatricians regularly with their children and I think it is vital to find the right one for you. Below is a list of questions you may want to ask when going in for an initial consultation with a potential pediatrician. And yes, you should have a consultation appointment with them before ever going in for a regular visit. And yes, you can and should do this while you are still pregnant – you needn’t wait for your babe to arrive to get started on this process, because, unfortunately, it can sometimes be a long one.
• What is your position on vaccines?
• How do you deal with parents who don’t vaccinate, selectively vaccinate, or vaccinate on a delayed schedule?
• Do you perform circumcisions?
• How do you care for the intact penis?
• What is your view on homebirth?
• What is your view on midwives?
• What are your office hours?
• Do you have an on-call physician after hours? If so, how do I reach him or her?
• Do you have both sick and well waiting areas that are separate?
• Do you have same day appointment availability?
• In which hospitals do you have rights?
• How do you feel about cosleeping?
• How liberal or conservative are you with antibiotics?
• What are your feelings on alternative medicine?
• Is this a group practice or yours alone? If it is yours alone, who covers you while you’re away? If it is a group practice, do I get to choose which doctor we see or is it on a rotation?
• Do you see newborns at the hospital or not until the first office visit?
• Do you have a CLE or IBCLC on staff?
• In what ways do you encourage breastfeeding?
• What do you advise parents to do about rear-facing car seats?
• What are your thoughts on baby-led weaning?
• Which books and resources do you regularly recommend to new parents?
• Do you have more than one office? If so, how often are you here?
• How many minutes do you allot for each visit?
• What is the average wait time for patients to be seen?
• What are your feelings on Attachment Parenting and/or gentle parenting?
Bring this list (or a list of whatever questions are important for you) to your interview so that you make sure you don’t forget anything crucial. Strike up a conversation with the office staff, medical assistants, and nurses before heading in. Do you like them? Do they make you feel comfortable? If you already have a child, bring him or her with you to the visit and watch how the doctor and staff members treat him or her. Do you like the way they act toward your babe? Does the doctor have good bedside manner? Do you feel good about ensuring the care of your babe to this person? That’s the bottom line. Do you trust this person with your child’s health and well-being? That’s really what it all boils down to. The list above is just a tool to help you figure that out. Ultimately, listen to your gut. You know best.
What would you add to the list?
Update: After much reflection and research, we now no longer utilize the services of a pediatrician at all. If our son is in need of medical attention, he'll see a general practitioner or, obviously, urgent care or the emergency room. Pediatricians have far too great a stake in the vaccine and circumcision businesses for my liking.