When it comes to the health of our children we mums would do pretty much anything to ease their pain and suffering. But sometimes it’s tricky to figure out whether your child should visit a GP or a paediatrician.
Thanks to the Australian Government’s Raising Children Network, here’s a few of your questions answered in regards to the different roles of each of the professions.
Is there an actual between a Paediatrician and a GP?
Yes a very big one. It’s not just in the way that they attend and treat patients, but more in regards to their specialties and qualifications. While you can just ring up your general practitioner any time, the same can’t be said for a paediatrician. Usually you’ll need to get a referral for your child and often there is more of a cost involved.
What is a Paediatrician?
To become a paediatrician, a person must spend an extra six years of training after they finish their medical degree. She or he is a doctor that provides specialist medical care to infants, children and adolescents and often they specialise in certain areas.
In addition, paediatricians know a great deal more about the many different conditions and illnesses that can affect children’s overall health, welfare, behaviour and education. Their experience and training allows them to have a greater understanding of how different illnesses and conditions relate to each other.
While some paediatricians do general training, others prefer to specialise in area such as cardiology, neonatology, developmental and behavioural fields.
So what is a General Practitioner?
An integral part of most family’s lives, a general practitioner is known as a GP, a local doctor or a family doctor. It’s their role to specialise in general practice medicine and care for many different health problems in all age groups.
They are fully qualified medical professions and some have special interests in certain fields, specialities or extra qualifications in specialised medicine. These can include children, elderly or women’s issues.
Who do I visit first?
If you’re worried about your child’s development or health your GP is always a good place to start. They will give you information that will help you decide about whether to take your child to another health professional. He or she might also refer you to a specialist, such as a paediatrician.
When you have children it’s likely you’ll make plenty of visits to your GP, so try to find one that you and your child trusts and feels comfortable with. Getting to know them will make it easier for you to talk openly about problems or concerns with fear of judgement.
The more information and clues your GP has about your family situation the easier it’ll be for them to figure out what’s going on.
Your regular GP can:
- Treat non-serious accidents such as cuts, minor bangs to head and plastering of some fractures
- Provide immunisations
- Monitors your child’s health and development
- Discuss your personal concerns and stresses
- Prescribe medications
- Help you prevent health problems in the first place
- Make referrals to other service providers and support agencies such as speech pathologists or child psychologists
Why you child might see a Paediatrician
Often your GP will suggest it might be worth your child visiting a paediatrician. This is often if they would like a specialist’s opinion about your child’s health and development. Your GP might have concluded that your child might need specialised care and treatment. Paediatricians usually see your baby immediately after birth to make sure everything is okay.
A paediatrician can help assess and treat:
- Behavioural problems
- Developmental delay
- Sleep problems
- Faecal incontinence or constipation
- Brain conditions such as epilepsy
- Asthma and allergies
- Autism and ADHD
- Problems with muscles and bones such as bow legs or development of dysplasia of the hip
- Disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Fragile X syndrome
- Poor growth
To get more free child health information thanks to Health Direct visit www.healthdirect.gov.au or call 1800 022 222.