Finding a new pediatrician

After switching our health insurance company we recently found ourselves looking for a new pediatrician. This can be a real pain not to mention a dissapointment if you happened to really like the one you've had. It's tough finding a new pediatrician that both you and your child feel comfortable with.

There are some parents that are lucky enough to keep the same pediatrician that they have used since their child’s birth. There are times though that you may need to make a switch due to a move or a difference of opinion. Now that you are facing this challenge, what do you need to know to find the right doctor for your child?

Only you know what your particular needs are, but here are some questions to ask yourself before you get started on your quest:

How far are you willing to travel? Decide which towns you can get to easily and quickly get to in case you have to rush.
Do you want a male or female doctor? It may not matter to you, but take a moment to think about it to make sure.
Do you have any language needs? Perhaps you would be more comfortable with one that spoke Spanish in addition to English?
Are you interested in a pediatrician or a family practitioner? A pediatrician typically sees patients up to 18 years old and they specialize in childhood issues. Family doctors can see all of you and your child has the option of staying with that doctor long after they come of age.
Do you want a small practice where you always get to see the same doctor no matter what or a larger practice where they might be open later and offer weekend hours?
Do you have any hospital preference? Some doctors may only have privileges at certain ones.
Once you have narrowed it down by answering these questions, find out which ones take your insurance and make consultation appointments with at least three of them.

Once you have made your appointments, take time to actually write down the list of questions you have for them. Other items to take into consideration are:

What is your gut reaction to the doctor? Do you immediately feel at ease or intimidated?
How long have they been in practice? How does this affect your impression of him or her?
Discuss some of your family history. If you have some sensitive issues such as mental illness, smoking, substance abuse that need to be known as part of your child’s history, what is their reaction? Do you feel judged or are they open to your specific challenges?
What is your child’s reaction to the doctor? Does he or she warm up quickly to the pediatrician or are they uneasy?
How does the doctor interact with your child? Is the doctor ignoring him or her? Did he or she actually introduce themselves to your child? Did the doctor work to make the child as comfortable as possible?
What is their style? If you lean towards anti-medication, are they willing to work with you in learning about alternative treatments when feasible or are you always going to walk out with a prescription whether you think your child needs one or not?

These questions should give you the answers you need to make the best choice possible. You may also wish to research your finalists online and do other background checks to make sure there have been no serious situations that you make you uncomfortable. Remember, once you start seeing a doctor, if you become unhappy there is no reason for you not to find one that is more suitable.

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