With time as families grow, many face the dilemma of choosing a family doctor or a pediatrician. Before we get to who is the best choice, it is important to understand what each type of doctor focuses on. A pediatrician is a medical professional specialized in children’s physical, mental, and behavioral health from birth till they reach 18 years. A family doctor is a medical practitioner who generalizes on treating patients of all ages. When choosing between these two medical professionals, you should ultimately consider their expertise on child health when choosing a doctor for a baby or young child.
Pediatrician vs. Family Doctor
Both pediatricians and family doctors train in the field of medicine; however, there are a couple of differences between a family doctor and a pediatrician, such as:
- Pediatricians are certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, while a family doctor, on the other hand, is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
- A pediatrician specializes in treating patients under 18 years, while a family doctor can treat people of all ages without an age limit.
- After the four-year years of medical school, a pediatrician trains for an extra three years in child development milestones, growth, and behavior. A family doctor completes their residency after additional studies on internal medicine, gynecology, pediatrics, and geriatrics.
How Do You Choose Between a Pediatrician and a Family Doctor?
Both a pediatrician and a family doctor have training and experience in the field of medicine. As a result, they are equipped with the skill set to provide routine preventive care and offer guidance and recommendations on certain conditions. However, different circumstances call for the attention of either a pediatrician or a family doctor.
Choosing the Right Pediatrician
When interviewing for a pediatrician, you should inquire about their academic qualifications, certifications, and any specialty areas to determine the right pediatrician for your child. In addition, assess how their clinic makes you feel and whether your child is comfortable. The right doctor will make you and your child feel welcome and cared for at all times.
A trustworthy pediatrician comes in handy as newborns have frequent visits with their frequently changing bodies. Over time the visits get fewer and fewer as the child’s immunity gets stronger.
Circumstances Where a Pediatrician is Ideal
- When your child needs a physical, mental, and behavioral health specialist, a pediatrician is the best option
- If your child has birth defects or congenital disorders
- When your child was born prematurely
- If your child requires immunization for certain diseases like chickenpox
- When your child is not comfortable switching to a new doctor yet
Having a family doctor has its advantages as your entire family can make a single visit and have your annual checkup. In addition, a family doctor can care for pediatric patients’ immunizations, injuries, and other disorders.
Benefits of Choosing a Pediatrician
- Pediatricians offer specialized care to your children
- Your child’s pediatrician can see them from birth, their entire childhood to their teenage years
- Pediatricians offer special treatment to children with special needs, congenital disabilities, or born prematurely
- They help children and their parents through behavioral conditions like ADHD
- Provide new parents with tips on breastfeeding, vaccinations, and care for their newborns
- When the transition time comes, your pediatrician can recommend you to a trustworthy family doctor
Circumstances When a Family Doctor is Preferred
- If your family has a common heath condition
- If your child is no longer comfortable visiting the kids’ office
- If your daughter needs gynecological care
Benefits of Choosing a Family Doctor
- All of your family’s needs are met under one roof
- Family doctors are trained to treat patients regardless of age and gender, meaning your family will have fewer family trips to the doctor
- A family doctor who has treated you for a long time will thoroughly understand your family medical history
- A better understanding of your family medical history will help your family doctor identify possible patterns and potential risks in your child’s health
- The patient-doctor relationship lasts longer, unlike the relationship with the pediatrician, which ends at the age of 18-21 years
- A child can’t outgrow their family doctor, meaning they can see the same doctor for as long as they practice medicine
- If you have a solid relationship with your family doctor, then it is easier to care for your newborn when they arrive
When Should Your Child Transition from a Pediatrician to a Family Doctor?
There is no specific age when your child should stop visiting their pediatrician; however, pediatricians train to treat kids until the age of 18. When your child gets to middle school, it is vital to have a conversation on the topic as eventually, the transition to a family doctor is imminent.
At about the age of 11 years, children start feeling old enough to avoid the pediatrician’s office, and this is a great time to introduce them to the family doctor. Parents still have the responsibility of making decisions for their children till they are legally adults.
The decision to transition from one doctor to the other also depends on the child’s health needs and who they feel comfortable seeing. Below are tips parents can use to help their children with the transition from a pediatrician to a family doctor; they include:
- Start the switching process early, when your child is about 11-13 years depending on their health needs
- Discuss with your pediatrician about the transition, and they may help where possible, as they understand their patients eventually outgrow pediatric visits
- Give your child the opportunity to explain their needs and not speak for them unless they ask for your help
- Respect their opinions and encourage them to discuss how they feel about treatments with their pediatricians and get alternatives where possible
- Encourage their growing confidence and independence by allowing them to speak privately with the doctor at around 12 years old
Call Us Today!
Our outpatient pediatric services at North Texas Medical Center include newborn visits, telemedicine visits, immunizations, prenatal consultations for expectant mothers, and same-day appointments, among other benefits. Some childhood illnesses we combat are but are not limited to pneumonia, ear infections, UTIs, asthma attacks, tonsillitis, upper respiratory infections, influenza, sprains, strains, and fractures. When looking for a qualified pediatrician with years of experience in the field, consider insisting on our medical center. If you have any questions or need an appointment for your baby, contact North Texas Medical Center at (940) 612-8490 or submit your inquiry using our online form!