When you’re pregnant, it may seem a bit overwhelming to think about all the decisions you are making on behalf of your newborn baby. One of your best resources after your baby is born will be your child’s health care provider. This professional can offer you valuable support, guidance and expertise. So taking the time to choose wisely now will pay off.
You can expect the health care provider and their care team will be responsible for monitoring your child’s ongoing health and development, including preventive health such as immunizations and medical care in the event of illnesses or injuries. In addition, your provider can also offer you support, education and appropriate referrals if necessary.
Who do you choose?
A pediatrician is the specialist most often associated with pediatric care, but there are other primary care providers that also specialize in caring for infants and children into adulthood. These include family medicine physicians, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners.
Start by doing research and talking to other people. Use the Internet or call the provider’s office to learn what the provider’s educational background includes, such as board certification and advanced specialty training in pediatric areas. Ask your doctor, your friends and other parents for recommendations.
You may find it helpful to meet with two or three providers you think would be good choices to learn more about them before making your final choice. Feel free to ask them any questions you think may be important in helping you make your choice. Observe their office staff to see if they are personable and friendly to children.
Because trips to your baby’s provider are likely to be more unplanned than your personal doctor visits, location and factors related to easy accessibility might also influence your final choice.
Here are some suggestions for your research:
- Is there a separate waiting area in the office for sick children?
- Are the same providers at the same offices all the time?
- Will your child see the same provider every time?
- Who do you call if your child gets sick during the night or on weekends?
- What are the office hours?
- Are there weekend and/or evening hours?
- Is there easily accessible parking?
- How do you make an appointment?
- How long does it take to get a well-child appointment?
- How long does it take to get a sick-child appointment?
- How long do you have to wait in the office before being seen?
- How are payments and billing handled?
Many insurance plans have managed care provisions and physician networks that influence coverage. Check with your insurance provider to be sure the provider you choose will be covered. Good luck on making one more decision that will benefit you and your child for years to come!