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Charleston, SC
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How to Choose a Doctor for your Child

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How to Choose a Doctor for your Child

New parents always want the best for their babies and one of the first steps you can take to ensure that is selecting the right doctor for your baby. Ideally, this should be done before your baby is born; however, it’s never too late to get started.
First, consider the options available to you. These options typically include pediatricians, family physicians and pediatric nurse practitioners. Pediatricians are probably the most commonly used health care provider for children, focusing on the physical as well as emotional and social healthy of children from the time they are born through adolescence. Generally, pediatricians focus on preventive health care. Pediatricians must complete the same minimum medical training as other doctors in addition to becoming board certified and passing a written examination administered by the American Board of Pediatrics. Typically, they must recertify by taking a new examination every 7 years.

A family physician completes minimum amounts of medical training as well. Instead of focusing primarily on children’s health; however, their training and practice includes pediatrics as well as other area such as orthopedics, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology. Like pediatricians, family doctors are required to earn continuing education credits as well as take routine recertification exams. One of the advantages of seeking care through a family doctor is that your child does not need to switch to a new doctor once they attain adulthood. In addition, you and the rest of your family can see the same doctor.

A pediatric nurse practitioner is not a doctor. This type of health care provider will typically have earned a master’s degree in nursing as well as having attaining special training in areas such as performing physical examinations on children and medical diagnoses. Some parents may be concerned that their children will receive less professional care from a pediatric nurse practitioner due less training. In reality, a pediatric nurse practitioner can provide numerous advantages. For example, a pediatric nurse practitioner may be able to spend more time with parents and children than busy physicians. If the medical problem exceeds the nurse practitioner’s experience, he or she can always consult a doctor or specialist.

As previously mentioned, it is generally best to begin looking for a doctor for your baby before your baby is actually born. Generally, this should take place about 3 months before your anticipated due date. Your choices could be limited if you have a managed health care plan, so always be sure to check the plan’s list before you begin your search. Be aware; however, that even if the doctor you would like to use is not on the list, that doesn’t mean he or she isn’t a participating member as the list could be outdated. If in doubt, always check.

After you have checked on any limits that may be imposed by your health care plan, you can then begin searching for the best doctor for your new baby. Always be sure to check and see if there are any investigations or complaints lodged against the doctors you are considering. You can find out this information from your state medical board.

Finally, don’t forget to interview each doctor you consider using for your baby. Questions you should ask include the following:

What are your office hours?

Is this a single or a group practice?

Which hospitals are you affiliated with?

How do you handle after-hours calls and emergencies? Do you have an open
advice line? How quickly are calls returned from the answering service?

Are lab tests performed in the office or at another location?

What are your payment policies?