Dr. Syeda Amna Husain, our NJMOMpreneur of the week, loved her job as a pediatrician at a busy practice, but she felt burnt out by a system that overbooked patients, cut short physicals and put time restrictions on sick visits. She wanted to give her patients the care she was looking for as a mom—a pediatrician that would be like a family friend and available for any concern—and made a bold move to make that happen. The result is Pure Direct Pediatrics, her own practice where she treats patients on her terms: Families pay a monthly membership (instead of billing insurance) for as many visits as they need, giving them access to a physician for any question, no matter how small. In between appointments and advising new moms on the best ways to breastfeed (she’s also a lactation consultant), we sat down to talk with her about how working with kids makes her so happy, why it’s ok to be a helicopter mom and the must-visit place in Holmdel where her busy toddler will spend hours exploring.
Featured image via Michael Benabib
Pediatrician, Lactation Consultant, Owner of Pure Direct Pediatrics & NJMOMpreneur, Dr. Syeda Amna Husain
NJMOM: Where do you live in New Jersey, and where is Pure Direct Pediatrics located?
Dr. Husain: I live with my daughter and husband in Marlboro very near Pure Direct Pediatrics. I have patients who come from Holmdel, Colts Neck, Hazlet, Freehold and all over this area, so it’s a great hub for central Jersey residents.
NJMOM: What inspired you to make the choice of starting your very own private practice, Pure Direct Pediatrics?
Dr. Husain: I always saw myself as a partner, and I didn’t think of myself as a businesswoman or boss or entrepreneur. When I moved to New Jersey after training at Georgetown, I was very underwhelmed by the job choices. And while working at a pediatrician practice for someone else, I was tired of being told how to book my patients. Sick visits needed to be seven minutes or less, but sometimes you have to take much longer than that to really solve the problem. Finally, my husband sat down with me one night and asked, “Would you rather see a few patients and spend more time with them, or more patients and spend less time with them?” I knew the answer right away, and that was quality over quantity—I desperately wanted to spend more time with the patients, without feeling burnt out and overwhelmed like I had been feeling. I was also seeing that so many mothers were turning to Facebook groups and friends for medical advice and felt that’s what a pediatrician should be—a family friend you can depend on for help and guidance. Pure Direct Pediatrics was born out of what I would be looking for in the ideal pediatrician as a millennial mother myself.
NJMOM: What is the concept of Pure Direct Pediatrics and how does it work?
Dr. Husain: We differ from other doctors in that we don’t involve insurance companies for physician visits. The concept of direct primary care (DPC) practice is that it bills patients directly via a membership fee, and in return, the patients become “members” of the office. They enjoy enhanced access to their doctor and to medical care yet they still use their insurance plan for extensive laboratory testing, hospitalization, vaccination, or imaging. It works like a gym membership—there’s a monthly charge, and during that month you can come in as many times as you want. We offer unlimited sick visits, opportunity for home visits, extended appointment lengths (30-90 minutes), minimal to no wait time, guaranteed same-day or next-day appointments, continuity of care (every visit with the same physician), coordination of sub-specialist care and after-hours direct access to your physician with phone, text and email. In some cases, you don’t need an office visit to make a diagnosis (or rule something out) or answer a question. This saves families time and hassle, and it is covered by your membership fee.
You need to know so much that goes with 18 years of someone’s life, and it’s an immensely satisfying feeling when you can provide that education for a child and their family. ” — Dr. Syeda Amna Husain, Pure Direct Pediatrics
NJMOM: What do you love the most about being a pediatrician?
Dr. Husain: Personally, one of the things that drove me to pediatrics is the fact that patients get better simply because they want to and seek out the best information that they can. Sometimes people ask me, “Aren’t the moms so annoying?”, and for me, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I prefer “helicopter” parents as opposed to negligent parents. Our knowledge is also so vast. Just think about the heart rate of a baby in comparison to the heart rate of a 20-year-old. Or how a toddler communicates in comparison to how a teenager communicates. There’s so much information you can cover within pediatrics. I also love the values that guide a pediatrician—we are essentially helping to raise a generation and advocate for their parents. That’s a great responsibility to have.
NJMOM.com: What makes Pure Direct Pediatrics different? How can a child grow in your practice, from birth to teens?
Dr. Husain: As a lactation consultant, I do have a lot of newborns that I’ve seen from the time they were born to where they are now. I love growing with them and their families. What makes Pure Direct Pediatrics so different is that I’m a parent, too—and it has made me such a better pediatrician. I’ve learned so much about sleep training, nipples and bottles from my own experience, and I can bring that knowledge to my patients. I also have more prenatal medical knowledge. I’ve learned that as a pediatrician, you know what you know and then you learn with the families that you see.
NJMOM: Do you have any advice for new moms returning to work? Is there any way to make the transition a little easier?
Dr. Husain: Set yourself up knowing that you are going back to work and what you’ll be feeling when you return. Think about what you can do to make it the easiest for all of you. If you choose to pump, advocate for yourself and let your boss know that this is important to you. Whether you choose to go with a daycare or a nanny, think about the questions surrounding each one. Give yourself time to digest each option. Another thing to think about when returning to work is not forgetting about yourself. Give yourself at least a week to transition—or ease back into work by going two days a week, and then after two weeks, you are there full-time. This way, you’re not overwhelmed by sending the kids back to the daycare or under the nanny’s care at the same time you’re going back to work.
NJMOM: Aside from being a pediatrician, you’re also a lactation consultant. What is one thing you’d love a new breastfeeding mom to know while she starts her breastfeeding journey?
Dr. Husain: When I came home from the hospital as a new mom, I thought I would breastfeed exclusively, and I ended up almost exclusively pumping instead. That was what drove me to become a lactation consultant—I wanted to help other moms who were struggling as well. I realized that breastfeeding is not as easy as it sounds and that it doesn’t always come naturally. It was actually quite difficult. Rather than a mom blaming herself, I tell each one that her journey is her journey and don’t be afraid to ask for help early on. I also make sure that she knows breastfeeding is a two-person job, a dyad. Sometimes the inability to breastfeed doesn’t come from the mother, but the infant.
NJMOM: Name your top three favorite spots in New Jersey!
Dr. Husain: We love Bell Works in Holmdel a lot—there’s a library, a market with all sorts of amazing food options and lots of space, making it a great place for my daughter to just run back and forth especially when it’s cold outside. Another favorite of mine is actually where I take my daughter for swimming lessons, at Goldfish Swim School in Manalapan. It’s such a great environment, and a place where moms and dads can really come together and bond. Project Brunch in Manalapan is somewhere I always look forward to going with my family on the weekends.
NJMOM: Did you always know you wanted to be a doctor growing up?
Dr. Husain: It’s funny, my mom is a pediatrician and I always enjoyed being around her office. I remember when she would let me visit the nursery where she worked and I felt such a happy, refreshing feeling seeing the newborns and infants, and I still get that feeling today. When I went to medical school, I just felt drawn to pediatrics. You need to know so much that goes with 18 years of someone’s life, and it’s an immensely satisfying feeling when you can provide that education for a child and their family.