Tips for choosing your baby’s healthcare provider
Babies have many needs – especially when it comes to their healthcare. A pediatrician, an internal medicine-pediatrics doctor, a family medicine doctor, or a family nurse practitioner should be your baby’s primary care provider, given they have the specialized training to care for your little one. Kimberly Frick, FNP, answered questions to help you choose a provider for your baby.
What is a pediatrician?
A pediatrician is a medical doctor who specializes in the care of babies, children and teens. All pediatric doctors complete four years of medical school. Three additional years of training are required to become specialized in the field of pediatrics. Then, pediatricians can become board certified by passing a comprehensive test given by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
What type of care does a pediatrician provide?
Pediatricians care for children from birth to age 18. In addition to providing well care and immunizations, they treat basic childhood illnesses and diseases. Pediatricians also help parents with concerns about growth, development, nutrition and discipline.
What is a family medicine doctor?
A family medicine doctor is a medical doctor who treats people of all ages. Like pediatricians, these doctors must complete four years of medical school. Three additional years of training are required to become specialized in the field of family medicine. Then, family practitioners can become board certified by passing an exam given by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
What type of care does a family medicine physician provide?
While pediatricians specialize in treating children, family doctors can treat your whole family.
What is an internal medicine-pediatrics doctor?
An internal medicine-pediatrics doctor treats adults and children. These doctors complete four years of medical school, then four more years of specialized training: two in internal medicine and two in pediatrics. They can become board certified both in internal medicine and in pediatrics.
What type of care does an internal medicine-pediatrics doctor provide?
Internal medicine-pediatrics doctors can treat your whole family. They are especially well-suited to treat adults with childhood diseases, such as autism and genetic disorders, as well as children who have “adult” diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. Internal medicine-pediatrics doctors combine the skills, wisdom and dedication of pediatricians and internists.
What is a family nurse practitioner? Nurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses who receive additional education and clinical training through a master’s degree or Doctor of Nursing degree. Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) then become certified by a credentialing agency, such as American Nurses Credentialing Center or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
What type of care does a family nurse practitioner provide? Family nurse practitioners can treat the whole family.
When should I choose a provider for my baby?
You should select a provider for your baby as soon as possible, ideally in the final months of pregnancy.
What steps should I take in making my selection? What questions should I ask?
There are many considerations to keep in mind. Ask your doctor for suggestions and talk with other parents. Many practices offer a special time for expectant parents to visit their offices, ask questions and learn about the providers and staff.
Frick shared these important questions to ask:
- Is the office near your home, childcare provider or place of work?
- How long does it take to get there during rush hour?
- Is parking convenient?
- Does the practice have more than one office?
- Do the providers stay at the same office all the time?
- What are the office hours?
- Are there evening and/or weekend hours?
- How do you make an appointment?
- How long does it take to get a well-child appointment?
- How long does it take to get an appointment for a sick child?
- How long do you have to wait in the office before you are seen?
- Is there a separate waiting area for sick children?
- Does the office staff seem friendly and interested in children?
- Ask about the provider’s training and experience. Does he or she have a specialty or area of interest?
- Will your child see the same provider for all visits?
- What happens if your child gets sick in the night or on weekends? Whom do you call?
Billing and payments
- Is the provider listed as in network with your insurance provider?
- Is the provider affiliated with a children’s hospital?
- Is the hospital with which the office is affiliated covered by your insurance plan?
“As you talk with the provider and the staff, you will be able to tell if you are comfortable with their personalities, manners and philosophy of caring for children. You also can speak with other parents about their experiences and ask for their opinions and recommendations,” said Frick.
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