How to confidently switch pediatricians

Your child needs a pediatrician that understands the challenges of caring for adolescents. General practitioners may have trouble dealing with non-verbal patients or kids who cannot clearly articulate their symptoms.

Even if you have a good pediatrician right now, a move on your part or retirement on the doctor's end might lead you to seek a replacement. There is nothing wrong with switching providers if your current physician is not providing the service you need.

Tips for transitioning to a new pediatrician:

1. Analyze: Start by listing all of the reasons you feel like switching pediatricians. This is not an important step if a move to a new city is causing the change, but note if you feel uncomfortable with the office staff or find the doctor's manner too impersonal. The only way to find a better choice is by understanding the problems fully. You may end up listing emotional clues that were subconsciously bothering you, like the doctor forgetting your child's name. Even petty reasons are important if they are causing discomfort on a deeper level. If the child is old enough, try asking him or her about their feelings and preferences. Some issues allow for resolution through a simple discussion with your doctor.

2. Research: Read member reviews and check Charlotte pediatrician ratings on Angie's List , talk to your friends and ask for references from potential choices. If retirement is ending your relationship, ask your current doctor for a referral. Produce a list of pediatricians to research instead of trying to choose one just from the names in the phone book. Call each one and ask about policies and business hours. These basic questions can provide a clear picture of the friendliness and professional nature of the staff. Ask about any issues that caused you to leave your last provider, including the doctor's opinion on immunizations or approach to treatment for childhood illnesses.

3. Talk about it: Both your spouse  and children should all agree with the switch before it happens. Presenting a good alternative helps both groups accept the change. Explain all of the factors behind it instead of just presenting it as a done deal. Listen to your child if he or she express unhappiness over the change, and try to frame it as an exciting thing rather than a negative event.

4. Moving records: If bad relations have left you uncomfortable with seeing the doctor, call the office and request copies of your child's medical records. A pediatrician must forward these to you upon request. You can either collect the records yourself and deliver them by hand to your new choice or have the two offices handle it. Before rushing your toddler in with a bad ear infection, have at least one wellness checkup or consultation with the new doctor. This will give everyone a chance to become acquainted.

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