What to expect during your visit

Most families come to us because a primary care physician has referred them to the genetics clinic. Depending on your child’s age, before the first visit, talk about it with your child. You can use our Patient Family Education materials as a guide, including this overview on genetic conditions. (Hmong, Somali, and Spanish translations available at link). Show your child a photo of the doctor from our directory. With younger kids, it may also help to draw pictures (stick figures work just fine!).

We take time to get to know your child

While it may sound more complex, a visit with a pediatric geneticist or genetic counselor isn’t too different from your average doctor’s visit, although it can be a bit longer. Most first-time visits last about one to two hours, so be sure to bring along any games, toys, books, or snacks your child may enjoy during that time.

Here’s what else you can expect during your visit:

  • Tell us about your family. Before your appointment, we’ll send you a form with questions about your family. You’ll get to know your family tree better than you ever imagined. It may be helpful take the time to talk to family members and obtain medical information about them before your visit. Although some questions may not seem like they pertain to your child, they’re all clues we collect along the way that bring us closer to getting you answers. During the visit one of the genetic counselors will ask more detailed questions about your family and draw out your family tree.
  • Step right up. When we start the exam at the visit, we’ll take your child’s height, weight, head circumference, and blood pressure. The doctor will also listen to their heart and perform a physical exam. We don’t do anything that hurts during the appointment.
  • May we take your picture? We often ask to take a patient’s photo, which may be used to collaborate with other medical experts or track any changes over time.
  • What’s your story? We know you’re here for your child, but DNA links families together. There are times when we may want to know what the parent’s head circumference or other measurements are, too. If we suspect an issue in your child that may impact you or anyone else in your family, we may make recommendations for other family members.
  • The road ahead. All of the previous steps help us determine what kind of testing may be most appropriate for your child. Many times, these tests — even a simple blood test — require insurance pre-approval. As a result, we may have to schedule follow-up visits to perform those tests once we’ve received approval from your health insurance company. We know you want answers, and we’ll work as quickly as we can to keep the process moving for you and your family.

Arriving for your appointment

Please arrive about 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment so we can complete the registration and insurance process. That way, we can more quickly concentrate on what’s most important —taking great care of your child. Remember to bring your ID and insurance card.

  • Late Arrivals: If you arrive more than 15 minutes late for your appointment start time, you may need to wait, see a different clinician, or we may need to reschedule your appointment for another day.
  • No Shows: If you need to cancel, please notify us at least 24 hours prior to your scheduled appointment.

For more information, please read our full appointment policy.


At Children’s Minnesota, we know how important reliable information about conditions and illnesses is.


Learn more about what to expect at your first clinic visit to the Children's Genetics clinic.