Recently our beloved pediatrician retired. I mean it when I tell you I was heartbroken! She had taken fantastic care of my children for the past few years, and I trusted her with their care. I feel very fortunate that my family had her in our corner for as long as we did. So it is a big pair of shoes left to be filled by her replacement!
Where do you start to look? Obviously there are constraints, such as keeping in network and staying within a specific region that will, to a certain degree, affect your decision. But what are the other things to think about when choosing a new provider?
Whether you are switching your insurance provider, unhappy with your child’s care, moving out of network, looking for your family’s first pediatrician or for any number of other reasons on the lookout for a new doctor, the following points are designed to help you figure out who will be a great fit for your family.
- Ask your friends. Ask about good experiences and bad experiences. Ask for recommendations. People who have great and terrible experiences often want to share that information with other people, especially people that they care about.
- If you’re in the same position I was in, or if you’re switching insurance but staying in town, ask your current doctor for advice. Physicians you have a relationship with are expertly positioned to help you transition to a new provider as they know your needs and can make recommendations that suit your family’s needs.
- Do you have any specific requirements of your doctor? Do you work specific hours, and need evening availability? Is there plenty of accessible parking? Is there access to an on-site pharmacy and/or laboratory? Do you have a preferred hospital, and is it important that your doctor has either referral or admitting privileges to that hospital? How far from home are you willing to travel?
- Call the offices of a shortlist of doctors to ask if they are accepting new patients, and request to meet them in person. Two to three is reasonable. Many offices will offer this for free, but some do charge, so be sure to ask your insurance company if this is something they cover. Some offices offer “meet-and-greet” times instead.
- When you meet your shortlisted doctors for the first time, be sure to ask about the issues that are important to you. Be sure to address the hot-button issues such as vaccinations, alternative medicine, circumcision, breastfeeding, etc. Make sure that you and your pediatrician-to-be are on the same page on these, or that your pediatrician respects your opinion.
- Find out how out-of-hours or emergency situations are handled by the office. What if your regular doctor is not available, who will work with your family then? Are you comfortable with that back-up plan?
- Don’t assume that you have to choose a pediatrician. Pediatricians that are certified through the American Board of Pediatrics have at least three years post med-school graduation where they worked with children from birth to age 21, and have passed the board exam in pediatrics. You may instead select a Family Practice physician, General Practitioner, or a Nurse Practitioner, among others. If you have a great relationship with your doctor, you could choose to have them care for your child. Make the choice that you feel best about!
- As you start researching new options for your child’s medical care, remember that no decision has to be forever, and that you may choose to switch pediatric care providers if you wish.
- Most of all, trust your gut feeling. If you feel incredibly comfortable upon first meeting, or if something doesn’t feel right to you, trust your intuition. You need to do the best thing for your family, and you are the best person to make the decision on what is best for you!
Good luck with this transition period, and if you have any other suggestions for parents to think about when making this decision please share them in the comments!
This blog is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical opinion nor does it create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your doctor in connection with any questions or issues you have with regard to your own health, the health of your children or family, or the health of others.