How to Find the Best Doctor for Your Infant
Waiting for the birth of your child is always an exciting time, albeit a very busy one.
Besides purchasing a baby crib and making a decision on baby names, another thing that must be on your to-do list is finding a good doctor for your infant.
But what are your options?
When it comes to medical care for an infant, you will find that there are normally three types of professionals who cans provide the required care:
- Pediatric nurse practitioners
- Family physicians
1.Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
The pediatric nurse practitioner or the PNP is a medical professional who has earned a master’s degree in the field of nursing.
The professional can perform a physical examination, take patient history, make a diagnosis, write a prescription and provide treatment and counseling.
A PNP will normally choose to specialize in a particular field, e.g., endocrinology or neurology. Many of them work hand in hand with doctors in private practices, clinics, and in hospitals.
It is common for parents to hesitate when it comes to choosing a PNP, possibly worried that the professional may not be well-trained in taking care of children.
But you should note that such feelings are unwarranted.
Having a PNP in a practice often comes with many benefits as the professional will spend more time with you and your child as compared to the doctor.
A family physician needs to complete three years of residency after they have completed medical school training.
Family medicine residents normally train in pediatric care, as well as other areas, e.g., gynecology, obstetrics, orthopedics, and internal medicine.
The residents are required to spend a few months training in each particular area.
Once they are done, they become eligible to take a certifying examination with the board of family medicine.
In addition, they are also required to take recertification exams as well as earn CME credits.
Given the fact that the physicians undergo training in many diverse areas, they are qualified to attend to patients of all ages.
What this means is that if you choose a family physician, there is a likelihood that your child will work with the same physician from the time they are born to the time they attain adulthood.
Additionally, all other members of your family will also be able to go to the same doctor for their primary care.
If you decide to work with a family physician, you will need to make inquiries about their age policies.
There are those that will only see a few children, while others will opt not to see children that are below a certain age.
Pediatrics is the professional that primarily focuses on the social, emotional, and physical well-being of a child from the time they are born to the time they become adolescents.
A pediatrician normally focuses on preventive healthcare.
For a professional to become a pediatrician, they are expected to complete four years of medical school, and then follow this up with three years of pediatric residency.
The professional will need to pass a board examination before they can be certified.
For them to keep abreast with the changes taking place in children health care, they are required to take the recertification examination every seven years.
In addition, they will also need to take certain CME courses once each year for them to be eligible for license renewal.
There are pediatricians that have attained additional training in certain subspecialties, e.g., emergency medicine, critical care, or cardiology.
Such specialists will normally have undergone an additional three years of training after they have completed their residency for them to become board certified in that subspecialty.
When Should You Start Looking?
The search for a doctor for your infant should start well before the baby is born.
There are instances when babies have come early, and you need to make sure that you have already found someone whose personality, work ethics, and style match your personal preference.
The best time to start searching will be about three months before the baby is due.
For those in managed health care plans, their choice for doctors may be a bit limited. Therefore, ensure that you go online and check out the plan’s list.
Given that the professional you choose will be the first one to cater to the baby’s health care needs, you have to ensure that you are comfortable with the office staff, environment, location, and the personality of the doctor.
You can find out more about the medical practice by asking questions such as:
- When is the office open?
- Is the practice a solo practice or a group practice?
- Is there a PNP working in the office?
- Which hospitals are the doctors affiliated with?
- How does the practice handle phone-related inquiries during and after office hours?
- Can you communicate with the doctor via email?
- Will your baby emergencies be handled by the doctor, or will the baby have to be taken to an emergency care center?
- Does the practice handle all lab tests?
- Which kind of payment policies are in place?
This checklist will help you organize your thoughts during the search process, and will also guarantee that all your interviews will be thorough.
There are medical practices that provide group classes for the expectant mothers to help them learn about their work, as well as discuss issues on how to handle, and care for a newborn.
Others, however, choose to provider one-on-one interviews.
You will note that many insurance providers encourage their customers to attend such prenatal appointments, and will often cover any cost that may be involved.
But it is recommended that you first check with your healthcare plan provider and the doctor to avoid any nasty surprises later.
The Doctor’s Personality
When interviewing doctors, you need to try and get a feel for their personality.
For instance, does the doctor view the baby’s parents as partners when it comes to the baby’s child care?
Is the doctor willing to explain medical issues to the parents in a careful manner?
It is essential that the parents and the doctor have good communication, as this is the only way that they will be able to build a good relationship.
Take all these factors into consideration the next time you are looking for a doctor to provide medical care for your infant.