Thursday, September 28, 2017

5 ways to get appointment with a doctor who has no openings: Ability Hacks

Juggling our children's various medical appointments can be a full-time job, but it's not exactly something you can pay someone on TaskRabbit to do. So then, there's us parents...and hacks that help you get in to see a doctor who's booked up for months. These are a few tactics that have worked for me. Remember, there's no such thing as being too pushy when it comes to getting our children the care they need. You're not doing this for your health, after all—only theirs. 

1. If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try again. 
When I'm told that there are no immediate appointments to see a doctor, I have been known to check in every single morning. Or I'll ask the staffer to call me about cancellations—I've literally said, "Can you put up a post-it note on your computer with my name and number so if there are any cancellations, you'll call?" Be polite, but be that parent who doesn't let up. 

2. Appeal to the social worker.
If you're dealing with a team at a hospital, reach out to the social worker. This worked for me years ago, when I was trying to get Max in to a renowned developmental pediatrician at a hospital. He had no openings for six months. I got in touch the social worker. I told her about Max's stroke at birth and how anxious I was about his future. And just like that, we were in. Sometimes, hearing the story behind the patient on paper opens doors. 

3. Befriend a nurse and/or office manager. 
This works well for any doctor you regularly visit, like the pediatrician, especially if it's a pretty busy practice and it's hard to get a well visit appointment at a desirable time. Chat with the office manager, get to know one nurse in particular. Make any special needs known; since Max is at high risk for seizures when he has a fever, I always try to get him in for a flu shot ASAP. Have your child say hello and interact with them. Give a gift during the holidays. When you can't get an appointment or urgently need a form filled out, bypass the person who makes appointments, reach out to the manager/nurse and beg shamelessly.

4. Have your people call their people.
And by that I mean, if your child's regular doctor knows the specialist, ask him or the office manager to personally put in a request for an appointment.

5. Last resort: email the doctor
Recently, I needed to get Max in to see an endocrinologist he's seen before, but all her after-school appointments were booked till January. I only pull Max out of school for doctor visits as a last resort. So I emailed the doc to ask what she could do, and she agreed to open up a spot 15 minutes before her appointments started one afternoon. I'm not saying every doctor will do this, but it is worth a shot. If this is the first time you're contacting a doctor, consider including a photo of your child in your email. Like I said: #shameless

Ability Hacks appears occasionally on the blog; the last one was about self-feeding tips for kids with disabilities. Got something you need help with? Email lovethatmax[at]gmail[dot]com.


  1. Sorry, I don't like this pushy behavior. If I'm pushy I get what others don't get. Yeah!

  2. Thanks for sharing these amazing tips!!

  3. I do all of these things. Especially the office manager and nurses. They run the show.


Thanks for sharing!

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