What’s the Difference Between a Pediatrician and a Family Doctor? banner

By westgate January 15, 2020

What’s the Difference Between a Pediatrician and a Family Doctor?

Parents want the very best for their children: the best physical and mental health, education, social interaction, etc. Finding the appropriate medical care can be confusing if you do not have a physician you trust or have access to good recommendations from friends or family. Should you entrust care for your child to a pediatrician or a family doctor? Do you really know the difference between the two?

The right decision will be different for every unique family. To help you make your decision, it’s helpful to understand how these two types of doctors differ. Both pediatricians and family doctors must complete 4 years of medical school. However, the focus of their medical residencies differs:

  • Pediatricians spend 3 years after medical school focusing exclusively on treating children younger than 18 years of age.
  • Family doctors spend 3 years after medical school in a variety of specialties such as pediatrics, gynecology and internal medicine.

Here are some questions to help guide you to the right type of doctor for your child and/or family:

  • Does your child have special needs? If so, a pediatrician might be the better option because they have devoted their professional careers to the care of children.
  • Does your child have specific medical conditions or health concerns? If so, you may feel more comfortable with a pediatrician who has spent 3 years of residency specifically in pediatrics.
  • Do you have concerns over your child’s mental health? If so, a pediatrician is trained to look for signs of developmental or mental disorders and offer treatment options.
  • Is your child afraid of the doctor? If so, a pediatrician may have more experience helping children feel comfortable and safe in a medical environment. The office décor may also be more geared toward younger patients.
  • Do you prefer convenience when it comes to scheduling appointments for your family? If so, a family doctor could provide all of your primary care needs under one roof.
  • Do you want your child to continue seeing the same doctor into adulthood? If so, a family doctor would be the better choice.
  • Does your family have a complicated medical history that could be passed down to your child? If so, a family doctor may be more in tune with these issues, be able to diagnose problems earlier and provide better overall care.
  • Is your child a pre-teen or teenager? If so, the pediatrician office environment may feel too juvenile to them and a family doctor office may be more appealing.  

Both pediatricians and family doctors maintain their medical knowledge and skill sets by taking continuing education classes so they can offer patients the very latest treatments and best care. Ultimately, the decision is yours.

The team at Westgate Family Physicians are family doctors in Spartanburg, SC, who have cared for thousands of families in our community. We have worked hard to create a welcoming office environment that helps all of our patients feel at ease. From wellness visits to illness appointments, our team can provide the care, early diagnosis and specialist referrals you need to stay healthy.

If you are looking for a family doctor, schedule an appointment with us today so we can start building a relationship of trust and compassion with your family. Please call (864) 574-0070 or click here to make an appointment.