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About Pediatricians

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Pediatrics 101

Pediatrics is the branch of medicine that focuses on health care for children from infancy to young adulthood (17–18 years old). A pediatrician is a provider who has the specialized training to offer diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventative care to young people within this age range.

Sometimes confused with family medicine providers, pediatricians specifically tailor care to children. A family medicine provider—or physician—provides similar care to patients of all ages and backgrounds.

To become a pediatrician, candidates must undergo over a decade of schooling and clinical training. In addition, before becoming board-certified, a pediatrician must:

  • Complete a four-year undergraduate degree featuring pre-medical courses like biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus
  • Complete four years of medical school with a full course load and clinical rotation experience (time spent as a member of a medical team)
  • Complete a three-year residency providing primary and intensive care for children of all ages (newborns to adolescents)

After completing their residency, many pediatricians will take the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) certification exam. Passing this exam means that a pediatrician has committed to continually expanding their knowledge of pediatrics. Pediatricians will have amassed over 12,000 hours of educational and clinical experience.

In addition to this training, a pediatrician can devote even more study and practice toward specialization, which allows the pediatrician to practice a specific mode of health care.

Types of pediatric specialists include:

  • Pediatric urgent care: Pediatric urgent care specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of non-emergency medical issues in children
  • Neonatology: The care of infants before and after birth
  • Developmental & behavioral pediatrics: Care of children with developmental and behavioral disorders
  • Child abuse pediatrics: Care of children who may be victims of abuse or neglect
  • Pediatric cardiologists: Care for children with heart ailments
  • Pediatric endocrinologists: Health care for children with hormonal disorders and disorders of the endocrine system, including diabetes
  • Pediatric gastroenterologists: Care for children with gastrointestinal disorders
  • Pediatric oncologists: Care for children with cancer
  • Pediatric orthopedists: Care for children with musculoskeletal problems
  • Pediatric neurologists: Care for children with neurological disorders
  • Pediatric nephrologists: Care for children with conditions related to the kidney and urinary tract
  • Pediatric pulmonologists: Care for children with conditions related to the lungs and respiratory system
  • Pediatric urologists: Care for children with conditions related to the urinary tract and genitals
  • Pediatric rheumatologists: Care for children with disorders such as acute arthritis and chronic rheumatoid arthritis

A general practice pediatrician may offer a referral to a specialist when appropriate.

Common conditions treated by pediatricians

As fully-licensed primary care providers, pediatricians have the training and experience to treat hundreds–if not thousands–of conditions in young people from infancy to adolescence and all backgrounds.

The most common conditions treated by pediatricians include:

  • The common cold/ flu
  • Sore throat/ strep throat
  • Stomach flu (gastroenteritis)
  • Bronchitis
  • Ear infections
  • Skin infections (like impetigo)
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Sinus infections
  • Bladder infections (UTIs)
  • Chickenpox

In addition to treating acute illnesses like those listed above, pediatricians play a crucial role in managing chronic conditions in children.

Chronic conditions commonly seen in children include:

  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Obesity

Pediatricians will also track and manage a child’s development throughout their youth. In infancy, this means tracking specific measurables like weight and skeletal structure.

As the child gets older, this also means diagnosing and treating developmental disorders like:

  • ADHD
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Autism
  • Dyslexia/ dysgraphia/ dyscalculia
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • Aphasia (an inability to understand or express speech)

According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 6 children have some sort of developmental disability. Pediatricians manage these conditions by offering treatment options and medical advice for the family to help support the child.

Well visits

Just as the annual physical is the cornerstone of adult primary care, a well visit–or well-child visit–plays a vital role in maintaining good health in children. These visits help ensure that children remain healthy and allow parents to catch any problems before they become serious. During these appointments, pediatricians will typically check the physical growth of children, discuss immunizations and other vaccinations, and answer any questions or concerns parents may have about their child’s health. They can also provide advice on nutrition and exercise for growing children and guidance on safety issues.

Here’s what to expect during a well-child visit:

Physical exam: The pediatrician or family medicine physician will perform a full-body physical examination to screen for infections and abnormalities. Pediatricians use a stethoscope to check for difficulty breathing and a regular pulse and examine the abdominal organs and genitalia for signs of infection or aberrant growths. The head's skeletal structures are inspected briefly to ensure that the bones in the skull form and join appropriately.

Measurements: During the physical examination, the pediatrician or family medicine physician will measure the child's body to monitor growth and development. For example, pediatricians use a special tape to measure the circumference of the child's skull, logging these measurements on a development chart that follows the child's growth curve.

Immunizations: A child will require vaccines to defend against disease and illness throughout its development. The CDC and the AAP have issued recommended immunization schedules to assist parents in maintaining vaccination and disease prevention schedules. Immunizations strengthen a child's immune system and protect them from diseases such as tetanus, polio, measles, hepatitis B, mumps, varicella, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).

Motor skills and development check: Pediatricians evaluate a child's developing motor abilities using a few straightforward tests. Tests include determining whether a child turns toward sound and whether their pupils follow a specific sight. In addition, a physician may inquire about social behaviors (such as imitating sounds and facial expressions) and abilities, including crawling, standing, and reaching.

Booking a pediatrician appointment in Fort Worth

Whether you need a routine checkup for your child or they are experiencing symptoms that require medical attention, Sesame has you covered. With pediatricians and primary care physicians throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Sesame offers convenient in-person and video consultations (often with same-day availability) in your neighborhood.

How to schedule an appointment:

  • Search "pediatrician" in Sesame’s search bar
  • Explore the list of nearby service providers
  • Choose from video or in-person services
  • Choose a time that best accommodates your schedule
  • Book your visit!

On Sesame, providers put their prices upfront, so you see what you pay for your care. Sesame works directly with providers and not with insurance companies, so you never have to worry about whether a provider is in-network. Again, the price on the site is the price you will pay upfront for your care.

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