Finding pediatric specialists
There are many different kinds of doctors who treat babies, children and teens. In last week’s post, I gave brief descriptions of 26 medical specialties. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also provides a thorough description of each kind of specialist. Just click on each specialist to learn how each doctor can help your child. The AAP also offers a physician locator to help you find a specialist in your area.
For the times when your child’s illness or injury is baffling, complicated or severe, your child’s primary health care provider (a pediatrician or family doctor) may wish to have your child seen by a specialist. Each pediatric specialist has undergone rigorous medical or osteopathic school training followed by years of study in a particular pediatric sub-specialty.
What is the difference between medical school and osteopathic school?
A medical doctor (MD) went to a traditional four year medical school. An osteopathic doctor or doctor of osteopathy (DO) went to osteopathic school – a slightly different kind of four year medical school. Both graduates are qualified to apply for and attend residency programs and pursue medical specialties. The major difference between an MD and a DO is that an osteopathic doctor focuses on treating the whole individual, and receives additional training in a hands-on approach to care (literally). A Doctor of Osteopathy may manually manipulate (gently) your child’s body in order to encourage his body to function at its best, which will help to promote healing. Both MDs and Dos are highly trained and skilled clinicians and often work together to treat challenging cases.
Who should coordinate care?
To get the most out of treatment (and to be sure the right hand knows what the left hand is doing), it is best to let your child’s primary care doctor coordinate his care. Much the same way a General Contractor is in charge of a huge project but enlists the help of many sub-contracting specialists, the pediatrician or family doctor should be at the helm of your child’s care and coordinate the specialists. The result is a safe, thorough approach. If your child sees a specialist, ask the doctor to send his findings to your child’s primary care doctor so that he has a complete picture of your child’s health.
Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.
Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.