In short, a pediatrician is a doctor for children. Just as it’s important for adults to regularly visit their doctor, children should receive regular checkups to ensure health and wellness as well.
The Role of a Pediatrician
A pediatrician looks at all areas of a child’s development and growth. Pediatric hospitals focus on children’s health. They can give regular check ups to provide preventative care. This includes giving vaccinations, diagnosing illnesses and injury, and providing general medical advice.
Some pediatricians specialize in certain areas, while others are simply general health care providers. There are many different areas that a pediatrician may specialize in, including otolaryngology, oncology, neurology or cardiology. Each of these specialized areas treats a different area of the body for children.
What Training Do Pediatricians Receive?
Pediatricians receive very similar training as any other doctor, although they specialize in diagnosing and treating young populations. All pediatricians must complete medical school, receive a state license, and then complete a 3-year residency in the area of pediatrics. It is only then that they may start practicing pediatrics.
Some pediatricians will go on to receive additional training to specialize in a specific area, while others simply start practicing general medicine. Others may choose to come board-certified by passing difficult tests and keeping up with ongoing professional education.
When to Find a Pediatrician
New parents often wonder whether they need to find a pediatrician during a pregnancy or if they can wait until after the baby is born. Many parents wish to build a relationship with their pediatrician prior to the baby’s arrival.
Parents can find a pediatrician and begin planning care for the baby’s arrival and health issues that might be encountered in the first few weeks. They can also give information about potential concerns that parents have or the emotional changes and postpartum depression following the birth of a child.
It may be less stressful to find a pediatrician prior to the baby’s arrival as it eliminates one of the many tasks to complete after the baby’s birth.
Choosing Between a Pediatrician and a Family Doctor
Since children are also able to be cared for by a family doctor, many wonder about the benefits to having a pediatrician. Family doctors treat individuals of all life, from babies to adults, while pediatricians specialize in treating infants and children.
As a result, some may decide that a pediatrician may be better suited to care for their child. They are specialized in common problems that a child may face and often understand how to communicate and care for children.
Others prefer that all individuals in the family have the same doctor, and opt for a family doctor.
Both family doctors and pediatricians are competent and knowledgeable about caring from children, so the decision is a personal one. Whether you decide to go with a family doctor or a pediatrician, you can interview them before you decide. There are a variety of questions that are important to ask prior to choosing a doctor or pediatrician. The topics include office hours and emergencies, billing, and staffing.
The Pediatrician’s Role
It is recommended that children visit their pediatrician at least 6 times during their first year of life. Regular checkups are an important aspect to your child’s health and wellness. During checkups, pediatricians will make sure your child’s growth is on track and you can bring up any concerns you may have.
From ages 1 to 3 years, this number decreases to only visiting a doctor’s office every 3 to 6 months. At the age of 4 years, this further decreases to 2 times per year.
The pediatrician’s role during this time is to track general health and growth. The pediatrician will keep an eye on sleeping and eating habits, physical and emotional development, and growth patterns. They also may offer vaccinations.
Pediatricians and Teens
It is essential that teens develop a good relationship with their pediatrician as they begin to undergo both mental and physical changes. They may wish to discuss sensitive topics with their doctor or have discussions privately.
Teens typically transition from seeing a pediatrician to a general health practitioner sometime between the ages of 16 and 21, depending on their preferences and yours.
Pediatricians are doctors who specialize in treating infants and children. They perform many of the similar functions as family doctors, but instead of treating children and adults, they specialize in only children. It’s important that infants visit their pediatrician frequently. As they age, this frequency will decrease. As they become teenagers, it’s important that children have developed an excellent relationship with their primary care practitioner as they experience the physical and emotional changes of puberty. As they continue to age, they will need to switch to a doctor for adults.