Healthy Lifestyle

What's Right for Your Child: Family Doctor or Pediatrician?

Published: June 14, 2019

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably wondered whether you can take your newborn to a family doctor or other family medicine provider. As someone who practices family medicine, I can happily say we’re trained to see your entire family – including your new addition.

In fact, it’s a good thing for the whole family to see the same provider. And, if you live in a small community, it may be your only close and convenient option.

Here are some things to consider when thinking about selecting a provider for your child.


Key differences

Family doctors are trained to care for patients of all ages and treat a wide range of diseases and conditions.

We focus on preventative care and work to motivate our patients to establish healthy behaviors and decision-making throughout their lives. We talk about all aspects of health living and can offer a range of treatments.

At Methodist Physicians Clinic Red Oak, my family medicine colleagues and I offer a variety of services that include evaluating skin disorders, performing simple biopsies, helping with hormone treatments and providing obstetric care.

Because family medicine providers see young patients frequently, we are well-trained to see your newborn or infant.

I see pediatric patients for common illnesses like colds, coughs, influenza, RSV and asthma. I also see premature babies and other high-risk pediatric patients, and I coordinate their care with specialists when needed.

Pediatricians, meanwhile, are specially trained to care for and treat pediatric patients. Once a patient reaches their teenage years, they “age out” and no longer see a pediatrician.


The benefits of family doctors

Seeing a family doctor has its advantages – for you and for me.

For you, a major benefit is convenience. Family doctors often serve as de facto pediatricians in small towns.

And, if you like your family doctor, you can stay with them for a long time – from birth through childhood and into adulthood. That continuity of care is positive because your doctor will know so much about you and your health history.

For me, it helps to intimately know a family’s health history. I may see a patient’s parents and grandparents. That’s helpful when it comes to preventing and monitoring cancer and other chronic diseases.

Plus, I like establishing relationships with families and having firsthand knowledge of their backgrounds and family dynamics. It’s rewarding as a provider to see a grandma one day and her grandchild the next.


Having a regular relationship with your physician

It’s important for patients of all ages to have a “medical home” or clinic where they go for their health care needs.

You probably know that we like to see children regularly so we can monitor their health and development. Regular visits allow us to discuss the risks and benefits of things like immunizations, and to address common issues like childhood obesity.

Regular visits also give you a chance to talk to me about your concerns – and help me identify any potential problems – before they grow into larger medical issues.

No matter your age, continuing regular contact with your physician is key to helping you and your loved ones maintain quality health. Methodist family providers want to be there for you and your growing family.

More resources

About the Author

William Butz, MD, is a family physician at Methodist Physicians Clinic.

He aims to put his patients first when helping make their medical decisions. He likes assisting people of all ages with a broad range of medical issues and especially enjoys helping new parents care for their newborns.

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