Choosing a Doctor for Kids: Pediatrician or Family Doctor?

Doctor during spine operation in operating room

Are you trying to find a new doctor for your child? Whether you’re preparing for a first doctor’s appointment or switching to a new provider, finding a doctor for kids is hard work. Your child can’t help you make that decision so all of the responsibility is on your shoulders.

How do you choose between a family doctor and a pediatric specialist? Is one inherently better than the other?

We’re here to help you make your decision. Keep reading to learn all about where you should go for your children’s health needs.

All About Family Doctors

Family doctors tend to be generalists. They may have specialties or specific specialists within their practice, but they aren’t exclusively pediatricians.

Family doctors are well-educated in all areas of basic health. They excel at preventative care and, in general, they work with all ages (as the name implies).

One of the benefits of choosing family doctors as primary care providers is that you can continue seeing the same doctor for all of your needs. They’ll have your health history and family history on file which can help them when it comes to your child’s health.

Choosing a family doctor as a primary care doctor also allows your child to stay with the same physician throughout their life. While some pediatric specialists will continue to see children through adulthood, this isn’t always the case.

Your child will feel more comfortable if they don’t have to transition to a new healthcare provider.

On the other hand, family doctors (because they’re not specialists) may not understand some of the problems that young children face. They may have to refer you to a pediatric specialist for things that aren’t included in their family doctor training.

All About Pediatricians 

So if family doctors are so well-rounded, what do pediatricians do?

Pediatricians are experts in pediatric medicine. They learn how to treat children’s smaller growing bodies to help them turn into healthy adults. While family doctors are also capable of this, pediatricians spend more time learning about child-specific issues.

Pediatricians concern themselves with the child’s future rather than the “here and now.” They take the child’s current condition into consideration and use it to develop a lifestyle plan.

They then track the child’s growth and make any necessary changes as the child gets older.

Pediatricians can manage both physical and mental health problems that are common amongst children. They also work alongside other specialists (like child psychologists, for example) to make sure that the child gets complete care.

Many parents choose pediatricians because they’re more well-versed in childhood health even if that means that the child will eventually have to switch doctors.

Which Is the Right Doctor for Kids?

Regardless of whether you pick a family doctor or a pediatrician, either one is a great option for a doctor for kids. If you’re unsure, talk to doctors in your area about your specific needs and concerns. Doctors want you and your child to find the right fit, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Your child’s health is safe in either doctor’s hands.

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