Finding pediatric specialists

baby-and-doctorThere 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 medical school?

A doctor of medicine (MD) went to a traditional four year medical school. A doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) went to an osteopathic medical 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 a doctor of osteopathic medicine focuses on treating the whole individual, and receives additional training in a hands-on approach to care (literally).  A DO 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 physicians 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 provider 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 provider so that he has a complete picture of your child’s health. To find a MD or a DO in your area, you can use the American Academy of Pediatrics’s tool. 

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. You can see more posts in the series, here. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

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2 Responses to “Finding pediatric specialists”

  1. Heather Ramirez Says:

    If your premie has ROP the best doctor in the world is out of Beaumont in Royal Oak Michigan. Dr T a specialist from Kreskey eye insitute seen our baby who was born at 24 weeks and told us it was so bad she would be blind and maybe see shadows out of her right eye one day. She was transferred to beaumounts NICU the same day and Dr T did laser surgery the next day. Today she is 9 and considered leagly blind she read writes and is at the top of her class . She is a case study for him 2nd worse case he ever seen but she showed him by the Dr who would not touch her was the best thing and I’m very thankful to the first dr who said Dr T was our only hope. Dr T said since they got to her first made a huge difference in her outcome. She has lots of specialist and I do my homework and make sure she sees the best of the best… The head of Children’s hospital of MI said she would never walk talk or eat on her own and with faith in God and all the work the march of dimes has done she’s living proof miracles and hard work pays off. She walks talks and eats just fine Drs can’t believe how well she is. It’s been a long road with lots of work but good doctors and parents who won’t take NO for answers show in her!

  2. Barbara Says:

    Hi Heather,

    Thank you for sharing your uplifting story. There is no doubt that many specialists can make an enormous difference in the life of a child. I hope your daughter continues to do well and defy the odds.

    Best,
    Barbara
    March of Dimes

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