For many parents, the line between a pediatrician and a family physician is blurry at best. Both are professionally trained, licensed medical professionals who specialize in caring for children, but when you are choosing the best health care option for your child, it's important to find out exactly what kind of care you can expect to get from each type of doctor.
Family physicians have a long history in the United States and are exactly what they sound like: doctors who provide health services to an entire family. This was more common in the days when families did not move much: one doctor developed a relationship with a family and retained that unit as clients for years to come. In recent years, family doctors have gradually become less common for a variety of reasons, including their reduced familiarity with children's health needs and issues.
Instead, many parents are opting to take their children to pediatricians. Children's doctors are more likely to be able to identify health conditions and provide proper treatment to children because, unlike a family doctor, a pediatrician deals exclusively with children, which allows them to devote their knowledge and expertise solely to providing health care for kids.
Some studies have also revealed that family physicians themselves feel less equipped to provide health care with children because their familiarity with child health issues is not as strong as what a pediatrician can provide.
Although parents and older children have to go elsewhere to fulfill their health care needs, the vast majority of parents have now recognized that providing their children with the best, most detailed health care possible is the highest priority. As a result, more children are seeing pediatricians over family doctors than ever before.