Choosing the right pediatric clinic for your family
What you should look for & tips to help you get started
Although the to-do list during pregnancy can feel overwhelming at times, selecting the right pediatric clinic for your family should be a top priority. It may take some time to find the perfect fit, but you can rest assured that the pay-off will be well worth it! Here are some things you should look for and tips to help you get started.
A good place to start your search is the directory of in-network providers for your health insurance plan. After all, you don’t want to invest a lot of time into finding the best clinic only to later find out that they don’t participate with your insurance plan. What a bummer that would be! Most insurance companies have in-network providers listed on their websites.
2. Shop Around
A recommendation from a trusted family member or friend is another great place to start. Just bear in mind that a provider that is a perfect match for your neighbor’s family may not be the best match for your family. And while online reviews and ratings can be helpful in some cases, remember that the values and opinions of other patients may differ drastically from yours.
Once you’ve narrowed your list down to 3-4, call each clinic to see if you can set up a “Meet and Greet” appointment. These are informal, informational meetings between care teams and potential new patients and their families and serve as great opportunities to meet the staff and determine whether or not you connect with the providers.
3. Office Culture
While on-site for your “Meet and Greet” appointment, be sure to take note of the office culture. A few things to look out for:
- Is the office kid friendly?
- Is it clean?
- Are the staff kind and professional?
- Do the providers communicate clearly and respectfully?
4. Philosophy of Care
Different providers and clinics will have different “philosophies of care” on certain key topics. There are numerous but a couple of examples would include immunization schedules and breastfeeding. Finding out where providers stand on issues that are particularly important to you and your family can help ensure that you find someone you click with.
Make a list of services that are important to you. If you dislike the idea of having to head to the hospital if your child falls or gets hurt and needs stitches or an X-ray, then consider choosing a clinic that provides urgent care services in addition to well child checks. You may also want to know if the clinic provides after-hours advice, new parenting or breastfeeding classes, and/or services such as ear piercing and point-of-care testing (strep/flu/covid).
Convenience is key, especially during those times when you need care quickly and don’t want to fight five o’clock traffic to get across town. Other key “convenience” items to consider:
- Are there evening hours? What about weekends? It’s nice to have a clinic that is open after normal business hours, so that you have the option to access care without having to take time off from work.
- Are there same day appointments? This is important because you can’t always predict when your little one is going to come down with a cold or stomach bug. In these instances, it can be frustrating to be told that the next available appointment is 2 or 3 days away.
- Is telemedicine an option? Virtual appointments are becoming more and more popular for good reason. You don’t always need to see a provider in person, and, let’s be honest, it’s nice not to have to take your sick child out of bed when really what you are looking for is supportive advice and/or reassurance.
Choosing the right care team for your little one is not an easy choice but certainly an important one. Do your homework and trust your intuition! And if you end up in a clinic that doesn’t fit your needs, remember that it’s never too late to make a change. Good luck!