When you have children, choosing the right pediatric provider can feel overwhelming. Obviously keeping your kids healthy is a huge priority for new parents, but finding the right provider and the right practice for your family can be more complicated than many people anticipate.
Part of the pressure stems from the growing realization that even the healthiest kids (and their parents) spend a lot of time with their pediatric provider. Experts recommend seven well visits in a child’s first year alone. When you factor in coughs, colds, ear infections, strep throat, the flu, peculiar rashes, bumps, and bruises, not to mention the regular stuff – physicals, shots and screenings – it’s feasible that you could find yourself in the same pint-sized waiting room 50-plus times before your child turns 18, and potentially more thanks to relaxed Affordable Care Act guidelines that enable kids to stay on their parents plan until they are 26.
Today, a pediatrician is no longer the default for parents looking to get the best care. Growing awareness of diverse care philosophies and increased practice rights for nurse practitioners has led many parents to opt for a nurse practitioner as their primary pediatric provider. Here are five reasons why a nurse practitioner may be the best choice for you and your family:
You prefer to focus on keeping your child well. Nurse practitioners embrace a holistic approach to care and tend to prioritize education, healthy living, and preventative care.
You rely on quality face-to-face interaction. Nurse practitioners are known to spend more time with patients, listen more closely and provide more feedback. Many nurse practitioners see fewer patients in an hour and can invest more time and devote more attention to little ones and their anxious parents.
Availability is a paramount concern. The need for last minute appointments is a given with kids. While the rest of the provider workforce is shrinking, nurse practitioners are multiplying, and by 2026, 64,000 more nurse practitioners will be coming to offices near you.
You’re looking for a long-term relationship. Nurse practitioners are overwhelmingly positive about their jobs, and 94 percent would choose the same profession if they had it to do over again. If you’re set on finding a pediatric provider who can care for your child from infancy through adolescence and into early adulthood, a nurse practitioner may be your best bet.
You like a hybrid approach. Many nurse practitioners work alongside pediatricians in practices nationwide, and their presence is a game changer. Generally, pediatric practices that employ nurse practitioners embrace a more holistic approach to care, see more patients, reduce patient costs and increase patient satisfaction for the entire practice.
There are more than 11,000 pediatric nurse practitioners caring for young patients and their families today, and that number will spike in the coming years. In all 50 states, nurse practitioners diagnose and treat patients (including prescribing medicine), and in 25 states and counting, nurse practitioners operate as primary care providers independent of physician oversight. This growing autonomy, coupled with a greater awareness of their unique approach to patient care, provides a refreshing alternative for many parents seeking family-friendly, patient-centric pediatric care.