A loving parent or caregiver is essential in a child’s life, but there’s another person whose importance cannot be overlooked when it comes to your child’s healthy development: your child’s health care provider.
There are a several of options that you may consider when choosing a provider. Pediatricians are trained in the care of children from birth to 18 years old. These physicians have received specialized education and have dedicated their lives to caring for children. A family practitioner is another option if you’re seeking care for your entire family, regardless of age. They will have good insight to your child’s health by knowing the family’s health history as well. Family doctors are often more available in rural areas than pediatricians. You can also choose to see nurse practitioner who specializes in pediatric or family medicine. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have received advanced training and can serve as your primary health care provider.
From nurturing the healthy growth and development of children, your health care provider can address chronic and acute illnesses, behavioral issues and complex medical conditions. Considering that well-baby check-ups are advised six times in the first year of life, it’s important the doctor or nurse practitioner you choose enjoys working with children and has the sensitivity to do it well.
How to find a doctor or nurse practitioner? There are a few ways to go about finding someone who is right for your child and family. Begin your search prior to your baby’s birth, especially if you plan to meet and interview your future doctor or nurse practitioner. Your obstetrician or midwife can make recommendations, and will know who has a good reputation in the local medical community. Hospitals will also have lists of local pediatricians, and if your insurance is a managed care plan, you will be required to choose from an approved list of health care providers.
That being said, never underestimate the value of a personal reference. Ask trusted friends with children who their doctor is, and what they like about them. These friends are the people who know you best – your style, needs and overall beliefs about childcare, so their recommendations will go a long way in your search for a caring and competent provider.
When you’ve narrowed your search, the office staff of the practice or clinic can answer basic questions. Among them:
- Is the practice accepting new patients with my insurance or managed care plan?
- What are the office hours?
- Best time to call with routine questions?
- How does the office handle billing and insurance claims? Is payment due at the time of the visit?
When you’ve selected a few options, call and ask for a personal interview with the doctor or nurse practitioner. Come prepared with some key questions. After all, you will be your child’s advocate, so it’s important that you as a parent feel respected and heard. During your interview, try and get a feel for the following:
- Does the doctor seem to enjoy working with children?
- Does the doctor welcome questions?
- Does the doctor seem to know about the latest medical advances?
- Does the doctor take time to discuss problems and listen to your concerns?
Asking a few key questions, of yourself and the pediatrician, will go a long way in determining who will have the honor to provide care for your child.