Switching Gears: How to Find a New Pediatrician for Your Child
- Some parents decide to find a new pediatrician because they’ve moved or aren’t satisfied with their current doctor.
- Your child’s doctor should be someone you feel comfortable with and a good match for your family.
- When you have a good relationship with your pediatrician, your children are more likely to trust them.
As a military family, we’ve had to switch pediatricians several times; however, on two occasions, I’ve changed doctors because I wasn’t satisfied. When you walk into a doctor’s office, you want to feel welcome as a parent, and I didn’t.
Changing pediatricians can be stressful because it’s a significant decision that impacts your child’s health care. Our children mean the world to us, so there’s no question we want to find a pediatrician who values their health, too.
With a few tips on how to assess your needs and ask the right questions, you’ll be able to find the best doctor for your family.
Assessing Your Needs When Changing Pediatricians
Before you switch doctors, look closely at why you aren’t satisfied to ensure it’s the best decision for your child.
Evaluate Your Current Situation
When my second son was born, I went with the pediatrician assigned to the hospital. However, after our first in-office visit, I immediately wanted to switch. I had a sense of overall negative feelings about the office.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)11. Sturgeon, M.. Parent Plus: Importance of routine pediatrician visits. Publications.aap.org. 2015;. https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/news/12481/Parent-Plus-Importance-of-routine-pediatrician?autologincheck=redirected stresses how regular visits create strong, trustworthy relationships among pediatricians, parents, and children.
Define Your Priorities
You want to go with a pediatrician that makes the most sense, but what are the key things to consider? As parents, it’s our responsibility to evaluate the most critical aspects of a medical professional.
Considerations when choosing a new doctor:
- Location and hours
- Communication style
- Qualifications and experience
How to Research Potential Pediatricians
It can be overwhelming to search the internet for a new doctor, so here are a few tips to consider when researching potential pediatricians.
Ask for Recommendations for a New Doctor
One of the best ways to find a new doctor is by asking friends or family members. Additionally, if you’re in a local parenting group on social media, you can put feelers out there.
However, even if you use a recommendation, you should still do your own research. Everyone has different preferences, and what’s important to you may not be necessary to someone else.
Check Online Reviews
Another method to finding your child’s pediatrician is by checking online reviews. Keep in mind that you should always proceed cautiously, because people seem eager to leave negative reviews instead of positive ones.
Consult Your Insurance Provider
When you switch doctors, you should check with your insurance company whether the new physician is in-network.
You’ll want to confirm what your insurance covers and doesn’t. For example, my kids have one well check a year, which has to be at least a year from the previous one.
Initial Contact and Interviews
Having one or two doctors to contact about switching your child is best. Unfortunately, your top pick may not be accepting new patients, and you should have a backup plan.
Call the Doctor’s Office
First, you’ll want to call the practice and inquire if they accept new patients. You may want to explain why you are seeking a different pediatrician to provide insight to the office. Remember, when some practices are full, they may still accept newborns and siblings, regardless of age.
Schedule a Meet-and-Greet
Don’t hesitate to call and schedule an appointment to talk to the potential pediatrician. It’s a good sign if they don’t question your request and find a time for you to come in. It’s also wise to bring your children with you so they can get a feel for the office.
Ask Essential Questions
You can prepare a list of questions to ask during the meeting, focusing on what’s most important to you. For example, if your child has multiple health concerns, you can ask if they can handle them.
Example questions to ask when meeting a new pediatrician:
- How do you handle mental health issues?
- How are emergencies and after-hours handled?
- How are appointments and vaccinations dealt with?
- Do you have electronic health records?
- Are you affiliated with a specific hospital?
- How many patients do you see daily?
- What is your stance on alternative medicine?
- How do you handle medication refills?
You may also want to talk to the practice staff, who can review the appointment policy with you and answer additional questions.
Making the Decision
When selecting a pediatrician, trusting your instincts and feelings is always best. As a parent, we usually just know whether something will work out.
A pediatrician is likely a good fit for your child and family if you feel confident and comfortable in their ability to provide the best care for families.
Review Your Findings
Once you meet with the doctor, reflect on the experience and decide if you can visualize your family going there in the future.
Considerations when deciding to switch:
- What was your comfort level with the pediatrician?
- Was the clinic clean and kid-friendly?
- Were all your questions answered?
- Was the doctor patient with your children?
- Do they seem to genuinely enjoy their job?
Finally, summarize the pros and cons of both practices, reflecting on priorities and whether you have a concern about switching.
Consider Your Child’s Input
If you have an older child, ask their thoughts on the new doctor. You want your child to have a good relationship with the doctor so they feel comfortable during appointments.
One thing I love about our pediatrician is his demeanor with my kids. Regardless of the time of day, he’s always on point, and I can tell he loves what he does.
Before the new provider can see your child, there are a few things you’ll have to do.
Obtain Your Child’s Medical History
Once you decide to switch, you’ll want to ensure you notify your current doctor and obtain your child’s medical history for the new pediatrician. Most offices won’t see new patients without medical records, so this should be the first thing you do.
Schedule an Appointment with the New Primary Care Physician
Once you’ve decided on a new doctor, you can call the pediatrician’s office to schedule your first appointment. Ask the office staff if the paperwork is available online so you can fill it out beforehand.
- Sturgeon, M. (2015, December 15). Parent Plus: Importance of routine pediatrician visits. Publications.aap.org. https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/news/12481/Parent-Plus-Importance-of-routine-pediatrician?autologincheck=redirected
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