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5 Reasons to Switch Pediatricians

Photograph by Twenty20

I've been a parent for five and a half years, and in that time, we've had five pediatricians. This isn't because I'm the pickiest parent in the world but because we keep moving (we're now on our fourth state since our oldest daughter was born).

Over time, I've learned what I like about a pediatrician and what I don't care for at all.

In fact, for the first time ever recently, I switched pediatricians for a reason other than moving. After our first well-child visit, I knew I didn't want to go back again.

As soon as I went to the new doctor's office, I felt a huge sense of relief that I'd made the switch, and when the doctor came in, I felt even happier about my choice. A week later, I went back to the old office to pick up some records, and I can't describe how delighted I felt at the prospect of never having to go back to that office again.

If you have the same dreaded gut-feeling I did pre-switch, you might want to consider these 5 reasons to change pediatricians:

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1. They make you feel stupid

(They) made me feel like the biggest idiot and also worst mom in the world.

This is a deal breaker for me. A few weeks after we joined the practice, I called the nurse hotline before dinner because my daughter had been complaining on and off throughout the day about a pain. The nurse's first response was, "She complained this MORNING and you're just now calling us?" You can guess that made me feel like the biggest idiot and also worst mom in the world. Would it have killed her to say, "Hmm, that sounds like you might want to bring her in and we can see what's going on"? I never wanted to call in again for any reason.

2. They keep you waiting. Every time.

Look, I know things come up and sometimes you get behind schedule. But if every. single. time. you go in for an appointment and I wait for ages to get in for my child's routine well-visit or a couple of shots, I'm going to find a new office that can usually stay pretty close to on-time. Parents are busy people, too.

3. The doctor has no idea who you are.

I hadn't realized that my previous doctor didn't really know who I was until we got a new pediatrician, who asked about my other daughter and how she was doing on the second visit. (You know what, I don't even care if they don't really know who I am—at least look at my chart before you come and pretend you knew my name).

4. You don't trust them

When I was a child, we moved and got a new pediatrician. My mom took in my sister for a totally run-of-the-mill rash. After the doctor went on and on about how it was probably a rare skin condition, he prescribed a medication for what my mom thought she had. My mom didn't know whether to be more bothered that he jumped to a (wrong) bizarre diagnosis or that he prescribed based on what she thought and he disagreed with. Either way, we never went back. If you don't think your doctor is very good at their job, you definitely want to switch because if and when something serious comes up, you want to know your doctor is capable of helping you and your child through it.

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5. You don't feel like you're on the same team

You and your doctor should be working together to keep your child healthy and happy. If you aren't feeling that way—if you feel belittled, stupid or attacked—pick a new doctor who makes you feel empowered to make good health decisions for your baby.

And of course, I like a doctor's office that has stickers or suckers to make up for the fact that my children get shots every time we go in.

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