Deciding who is going to care for your child is a difficult decision to make. Getting recommendations from family and friends is a good place to start. You can also call the doctor’s office to see if you can meet with the provider. A “Meet the Doctor” appointment allows you to get a sense of what the doctor’s manner and philosophy is.
In terms of the type of doctor, children typically see either a pediatrician or a family physician. A pediatrician is a physician who specializes in children from the moment they are born through their teenage years (some they will see into college). Pediatricians have a three-year residency focused on inpatient and outpatient care of children.
A family physician can see a larger range of patients including newborns, children, adults and older adults. Some will also do obstetric care. Like pediatricians, family physicians also have a three-year residency, but it is more broadly based to cover obstetrics, internal medicine and pediatrics. A family physician can care for most pediatric patients, but if your child has a more complex medical condition or illness, they will often be referred to a pediatric provider who has more specific training.
Many families love being able to have everyone see one physician, so they opt for a family physician. Other families like having a pediatrician who only cares for infants, children and teenagers. The right choice for a physician is up to the parents. It can take them some time to determine what is best for their growing family.