All doctors have a mission to take good care of their patients, but not just any doctor is right for your baby or child? While pediatricians and family doctors both qualify to care for young children, there are considerations parents and caregivers should think over before deciding on which doctor is right for their child. Pediatricians primarily care of children from birth to childhood, giving them a well-versed experience in child development. They also understand that providing medical treatment to a baby or child is different than an adult, so there is a different level of compassion in how they communicate to their patients and the parents and caregivers. Consider these key differences in deciding the right doctor for your child!
Both pediatricians and family doctors have received training to care for children, however, pediatricians primarily specialize in the treatment of babies and children of all ages, and the family doctor specializes in the treatment of all ages. Since pediatricians solely deal with younger patients and have specialized training in children’s physical, mental, and social health through four years of medical school and three additional years of medical residency in pediatrics, you may find that their care is more tailored to a baby and child’s needs. Pediatricians are also required to maintain board certification by passing the exam from the American Board of Pediatrics every 7 years to ensure they are current with treatments, practices, and children’s health information. Pediatricians are also more prone to recognize conditions and symptoms that are common during infancy to adolescence than in adults. Keep in mind that symptoms and treatment plans may also vary widely dependent on the patient’s age. A doctor specializing in care for the younger audience is particularly important for children with chronic conditions or babies born prematurely or have medical conditions that require specialized care.
Communication with Patients
Patients, regardless of their age, should feel comfortable with their medical care provider. Pediatricians have received specialized training to communicate with compassion and understanding because a patient who’s a baby or child will respond and react differently than an adult patient. Pediatricians also know how best to communicate and work closely with the parent or caregiver of the child to help answer questions and concerns that the young patient may not always know how to express. This is particularly important and valuable with newborn patients as many pediatricians will do rounds at the hospital and may be more familiar with the baby’s delivery and health after birth than a new doctor taking over care. A child born as a preemie, with a birth defect, or other serious health conditions require special attention and care, and a pediatrician may have more experience and knowledge of pediatric specialists to work together with for the proper care. There may also come a time where parents and caregivers have questions on things like teething or teen anxiety that pediatricians are specialized in addressing with more sensitivity to the patient. A doctor knowing how to communicate with the young patient and the accompanying parent or caregiver is important to laying a foundation that makes the child feel comfortable with each future visit.
Nobody enjoys the wait at the doctor’s office, but that experience is eased especially for young patients when it’s made child-friendly. A pediatrician’s office generally will have a separate waiting area for newborns and sick children as their immune system is not fully protected as adults. There is also priority for shorter wait times to reduce risks for young patients. These factors, along with a more child-friendly environment can make the difference between the visit to a pediatrician’s office and a family doctor’s office more bearable for young children. A family doctor’s office may not necessarily tailor as much to young children because on average, they may only spend 10% of their time treating children. So those cute character band aids and stickers pediatricians may hand out to patients after a visit that keeps everyone smiling may be much missed when you have a doctor who doesn’t necessarily specialize in caring for a younger audience. Many pediatric offices may also tailor to young children in other ways like offering toys, books, and other activities during the wait, which makes it easier on the child as well as the parents and caregivers.
Your baby and child depends on you to help to ensure they are properly cared for. One important decision parents and caregivers can do is deciding on where to get the best medical care that is specialized to the child’s needs. It is a responsibility to your child at least until they turn 18. Ensure your child has a healthy childhood by selecting a pediatrician that they are comfortable with and that you can confidently trust knowing they are providing the best specialized care to your baby or child.