How Are Pediatricians Different From Family Practitioners?
Pediatricians specialize in the care of children from birth to about 18. They offer preventive care, often called well-child services, as a way to positively impact long-term health. Of course, pediatricians at Brevard Health Alliance, Inc. also provide care to children with a wide range of illnesses. Care is not limited to physical illness. Many pediatricians also provide mental and emotional support as they follow their patients from infancy through young adulthood. At BHA, our Board Certified Pediatricians and licensed Pediatric Nurse Practitioners accept walk-in and late afternoon appointments.
When Should I Begin My Search for a Pediatrician?
It is wise to begin your search when you are between 28 and 34 weeks pregnant. If you wait until after the baby is born, you may not have the time or energy to find a pediatrician who fits well with your family, plus it adds a layer of stress you do not need in a home with a newborn. When you give yourself time to meet more than one local pediatrician, you are more likely to be satisfied with your commitment. Parents who are comfortable with their pediatrician are more likely to attend well-baby checks consistently.
Where Do I Start?
Your obstetrician or midwife is a good place to start. Once you have gathered their recommendations, ask friends and family members with children who they chose, and why. If you are still stuck, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a pediatrician referral database at www.aap.org. Keep in mind that newer, fantastic pediatricians may not have made it onto the database yet, so don’t discount a highly recommended doctor for that reason alone. With several names in hand, it is a good idea to check the American Board of Medical Specialties website at www.abms.org to check on the pediatrician’s credentials.
Logistics and Questions You Will Want to Consider
- Where is the pediatrician’s office located? When you have a sick little one, long drives are no fun for anyone.
- What are the practice’s hours? Depending upon your work schedule, it needs to be feasible for you to get to appointments.
- Who will I reach if something serious comes up after hours? Consider if you are okay with talking with pediatric nurses or if you’d prefer a practice that ensures a pediatrician is on call after hours.
- Do you prefer to totally rely on the doctor for their expert opinion, or do you expect to collaborate on your child’s care as an active part of the healthcare team? If you have strong, well-researched philosophies, it is best to find a doctor who aligns with your philosophies.
What Questions Can I Ask My Friends When They Give Me Recommendations?
- Do the pediatrician(s) and office staff take the time to answer questions thoroughly?
- Does the pediatrician have a good rapport with your children?
- Does the office staff treat both adults and children with respect?
- Are phone calls answered or returned promptly?
- What are typical wait times for wellness checks and sick office visits?
- Do you ever feel rushed during appointments?
Schedule an Interview and Observe the Office Routines
When you walk in, pay attention to how you are greeted. Even a busy practice should feel friendly and welcoming. Look around to see if there are designated waiting areas for sick and well-child visits. Cleanliness is an important factor in the waiting room as it gives you a glimpse of the priority the practice puts on overall health and safety of their patients. Ask the office staff how quickly they can accommodate sick appointment requests. After all, no one plans on sickness to happen. Perhaps one of the harder questions to ask is whether or not the pediatrician supports parents who wish to obtain a second opinion. This should not be an issue.
It is a good idea to ask questions about how billing is handled before you visit. Make sure you know whether your insurance is accepted and what types of payments need to be made at each visit.
At Brevard Health Alliance, Inc., we have stellar doctors who specialize in pediatric care. Our pediatricians are here to keep your children healthy and to get them back on their feet as quickly as possible when they’ve been sick.