Written by Richard Lander MD FAAP
As a pediatrician I am sometimes asked, “When should my child start seeing my adult physician?”
My answer is not until their early 20’s.
Pediatricians are trained to treat babies, toddlers, children, adolescents and young adults. Pediatric training encompasses four years of medical school and a minimum of three years of residency in pediatrics.
Throughout our career, we are constantly attending conferences and reading journals or medical literature to ensure that we are always current and apprised of cutting-edge pediatric medicine.
Your pediatrician helps you deal with your baby’s acid reflux, guides you on how and when to introduce solid foods and thrills with you when your baby speaks his/her first words.
At your well visits, your pediatrician asks questions to determine if your infant/child is developing properly and if not, you will be directed to the proper place for evaluation. You are counseled on proper nutrition and exercise for your child and encouraged to expose your child to a range of cultural and educational experiences.
When your child is wheezing or crouping in the middle of the night, it’s your pediatrician you call on for help. When your child has a 104 degree fever on a Sunday morning your pediatrician tells you to come over to the office to be examined. It is your pediatrician who is there with you as your child becomes an adolescent and together we deal with adolescent issues such as acne or uncomfortable menstrual cycles.
With some of you, we traverse the difficult terrain of painful adolescent anxieties or drug and alcohol problems. It is your pediatrician you consult for concussions and sprains from sports. When your child begins thinking of college and a future career, your pediatrician is as excited as you are, because your pediatrician has been there with you as your child has grown into a young adult.
It is your pediatrician who takes your child’s phone calls from college to help with a health issue or an emotional problem. When it becomes time to move on to an internist, it is a happy but also sad parting of the ways.
And then of course the fun begins again as your pediatrician begins to care for your child’s child: a very special pleasure for your pediatrician — the second generation.
As you can see, there is no other healthcare professional who knows your child the way your pediatrician knows your child.
The walk-in clinic has no frame of reference; they have not treated your child throughout the years. Many internists and family practitioners do not treat large numbers of children and are therefore not equipped to handle the range of issues involved in treating children and adolescents.
Many non-pediatrician physicians do not have the vaccines needed to keep your child properly immunized. Most do not see patients after hours; they send patients to the emergency department.
With your pediatrician you have grown accustomed to being seen right away and in the office where you are comfortable. Your pediatrician has been trained to deal with your child’s health issues from birth until they are young adults. We know your family and we know your child’s history. We know you and we are always there for you.
Dr. Lander has been practicing pediatrics for 32 years in New Jersey and is the immediate past chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Administration and Practice Management. He says if he had to do it all over again he wouldn’t hesitate to be a pediatrician.
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