(Choosing a Pediatrician for Your Child also appeared in the Public Opinion Newspaper on November 14, 2014. To read it online, visit www.publicopiniononline.com.)
When it comes to medicine, kids shouldn’t be treated like small adults. Dr. Michael Colli, chief medical officer of Keystone Health and medical director and pediatrician at Keystone Pediatrics,shares how pediatricians are trained to care for kids and why it’s important for kids to get regular care during the first years of life.
Not little adults
Children have their own unique biological makeup, which result in their own unique issues. An old adage says children aren’t “just little adults” and that is very true. Their organ systems are not fully developed which make them different than adults. When they become ill, the knowledge of those differences is important in evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.
Pediatricians see and treat only children all day, every day. To become a pediatrician, doctors attend medical school and then complete three additional years of specialized residency training in treating children from birth to 18 years old. This also includes advanced training in the care of a critically ill and hospitalized child.
Well child checks are important, allowing providers to assess regular growth and development. Children should be seen at birth, 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 2 years, and then yearly after that. The earlier growth and development issues are identified, the earlier testing and treatment can be done.
There are three types of appointments—well child checks, acute illness visits, and behavioral evaluations. Pediatricians can identify and treat a myriad of common complaints and also act as a “gatekeeper” to address a problem, order the needed testing, and then refer the patient to the appropriate specialist if needed.
Find a Pediatrician
Before your child is born, ask friends and family where they take their children for care. If this is your first child, it may be helpful to ask for suggestions from your obstetrician or midwife. Find out where they take their own children. If a practice is good enough for them, then that should speak volumes about its quality.