Choosing a Baby Doctor: Ten Questions to Ask Your Pediatrician

2. How much are your hospital charges and fees for office visits? In many places, pediatricians charge similar fees, with family practitioners probably charging somewhat less. Many HMOs and similar health care plans set flat fees.

3. Does a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) work in your office? A PNP is a nurse, often already with a masters degree, who with additional training becomes the pediatric equivalent of the certified nurse midwife in an obstetrician's office. (American Nurses Association News Release, 11 July 1995, p.2) A PNP can handle "well-child" checks and minor illnesses, and consults with the pediatrician as needed. Many parents like to work with PNPs, as they often spend more time with them, and their fees are lower than a doctor's.

4. Do you charge for phone calls? Most physicians do not charge for these calls, but some do. Typically, most parents of firstborn children call frequently.

5. Do you return every call? Some doctors make every callback. Others have office personnel return the calls. Occasionally, the nurse who hand les your phone call may not have the same attitude about the issue in question (breastfeeding or sleeping habits, for example) that you or your doctor have. If you find that the person who's handling your phone call is not on your wavelength, request that the doctor call you back instead.

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