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Assessing the Community

 

​​Whether opening a practice, joining a practice, or relocating, there are a number of things to consider before making the final decision. In real estate, the 3 most important considerations when buying a house are location, location, and location. 

The same is true of a pediatric practice. Many of the decisions about practices and lifestyles will be determined by your preferences about where you would like to live and work. 

The following are some tips on selecting a community in which to practice: 

  • Consider trends in the local obstetrician demographics. These impact the number of newborns (potential new patients).

  • Contact the local chamber of commerce to find migration trends and the opening of schools, homes, and hospitals. This is
    often a good predictor of whether the location will be viable
     

  • It is important to know if the community in which you plan to practice is a younger community with new families emerging or an aging retirement community. 

  • Identify where patients live. The rule of thumb is that patients will drive 20 minutes to see a​ doctor. If the office is farther, patients will seek a doctor that is closer to where they live. If you plan to practice in a rural area, this rule may not apply.

  • Competition. Consider the number of acute care services in the community. Examples of acute care services include retail based clinics (RBCs) and urgent care facilities. RBCs, also called convenient care clinics, are often found in supermarkets, pharmacies, and other similar retail locations. They provide a limited scope of primary care services for adults and children. Nurse practitioners or physician assistants typically staff RBCs, and there is usually no physician on site. No appointments are necessary and posted fees are generally less than at a physician’s office. Urgent care typically focuses on providing acute assessment and management of mildly or moderately sick or injured patients, with an emphasis on rapid service and low cost. Freestanding urgent care facilities typically provide unscheduled visits but may also allow patients and families to make an appointment.

  • Consider the number of pediatric care professionals in the area.

  • Think about practicing in a rural area. Rural pediatrics can be a great opportunity to serve children without other options for pediatric care. Those who choose to practice in a rural area usually prefer to use all skills learned during residency. It is common for practicing pediatricians in rural areas to perform resuscitations, intubations, and lumbar punctures. It is often their responsibility to stabilize and care for children who are chronically ill. The recent trend of telehealth linkages to pediatric medical and surgical is relieving rural pediatricians from feeling isolated. For those who are committed to serving children and families far away from other sources of medical care, this is a may be a perfect fit and an opportunity to make a difference.

The AAP Committee on Pediatric Workforce provides a report on “State Pediatrician Workforce Survey - July 2015” which includes a series of national maps​ that show findings on several key issues, such as (1) % of pediatricians reporting the number of specialists who care for children in their area is poor to fair, (2) % of pediatricians reporting the wait times for appointments for specialists are poor to fair, and (3) % of pediatricians who would retire now if affordable.​

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