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How To Choose Between Children's Physicians and Family Practitioners

by Anna Woodward

posted in Health and Fitness

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One of the biggest concerns for parents is whether or not they should have their kids see a children's physician or a family practitioner. After considering the following three things, you will be able to make the decision with ease.
Specialist Versus Family Practitioner
While both are doctors, there are some rather significant differences between a children's physician and a family practitioner. A pediatrician focuses on early childhood preventative and developmental health care. They are the authority on medications and research findings pertaining to the treatment of kids. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatricians spend more time in specialized residency training than other types of doctors. Specifically, they spend approximately three to six years. This is significantly more training than the maximum three months that other doctors spend in specialized programs.
Family practitioners, on the other hand, specialize in the treatment of the entire family, which may include kids. In comparison to the specialists, however, the extent of their knowledge is limited. Family practitioners focus on the milestones of early childhood development and health care, and, therefore, are more prone to missing the details than their more trained counterparts.
Age Matters
When considering which type of doctor you should choose for your child, one of the biggest determining factors should be the age of the minor in question. Children's physicians are more equipped to handle any preventative and developmental health care needs for your child from infancy up until the age of 21. Such doctors are also better able to understand and treat the emotional and social developmental issues that may arise throughout a kid's life. Family Practitioners, on the other hand, while able to treat your entire family, are more commonly known to treat older kids, like teens, well into their adult years. As a result of such differences, the focus is vastly different and should thus be taken into consideration when choosing between a specialist and a family practitioner.
Consider Your Needs: Short Term and Long Term
Ultimately, the decision comes down to your particular needs. In other words, do you have kids, or are you planning on having kids in the near future? If so, then you'll likely be better off choosing a children's physician over a family practitioner. In addition, the staff at a pediatrician's office is more equipped to address the needs and health concerns of younger kids and can, therefore, assist the specialist with providing more comprehensive care.
Despite both having medical training, and ultimately being able to treat anyone, when it comes to preventative and developmental health care of kids, children's physicians are the resounding winner. Not only are these doctors more trained in the area of pediatrics, but they also are more knowledgeable about the smaller milestones, more serious diseases, and emotional and social issues that arise in kids.
About the Author: When considering children's physicians, Chatham, New Jersey residents visit Touchpoint Pediatrics. Learn more at
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