How to Choose Between a Pediatrician and Family Physician

Years ago many mothers always used their family doctor when a new baby came into the family. But now taking your child to the family doctor almost seems extinct. Most sick children are cared for by a pediatrician. But which one is right for you? Babies and young children are what pediatricians specialize in. Pediatricians have had three years of specialty training in addition to the four years of medical school.

Most that are board certified have also had to pass a stringent qualifying exam. One of the biggest advantages of selecting a pediatrician for your little one is they only see children and lots of them. This makes them a lot more familiar than other doctors with many of the ailments that affect young children. They are also more likely to have answers to the many questions that new parents are sure to have. On the other hand there is a disadvantage to periatricians. Since they only see younger members of the family they may have a hard time recognizing when a child’s problem is rooted to their families history.

There are several things that stand out about choosing a family physician. Just like the pediatrician they usually have had three years of specialty training following medical school. But a family practice residency program covers a lot more than a pediatric once. Members of the American Academy of Family Practice must take 150 hours of continuing medical education every three years.

One of the advantages of choosing a family physician is that your entire family can be cared for by the same doctor, who will know each of you both on a clinical and on a personal basis. This is a great advantage when it comes to diagnosing and treating ill family members. It is also a big plus when you have another baby, they already are aware of the family history and will know exactly what to look for.

The disadvantages however are that they will have had less experience in pediatrics than a pediatrician has. A family doctor may be less helpful when it comes to dealing with all of the questions a new parent will have. What you can do is look for a family physician who sees a lot of babies, and not just older children.

After speaking to several family physicians’ and pediatrician’s it is really hard to determine which is the better choice. This really depends on you and your family and what you would be more comfortable with. The doctors that I spoke to did say that a pediatrician has a lot more experience dealing with newborns. But once your child reaches the teenage years many parents then choose to switch to a family doctor. Sometimes at the request of the pediatrician. Obviously because they usually only treat younger children. But of course by that time your child will be old enough to decide for themselves what doctor they would like to visit.

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