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Health Information For Parents
A primary care physician (PCP), or primary care provider, is a health care professional who practices general medicine. PCPs are our first stop for medical care. Most PCPs are doctors, but nurse practitioners and even physician assistants can sometimes also be PCPs.
A PCP is the person your child should see for a routine checkup or non-emergency medical care. If your child has a mild fever, cough, or rash, or is short of breath or nauseated, a PCP usually can find the cause and decide what to do about it.
Usually, PCPs can treat conditions in their own offices. If they can’t, they can refer you and your child to a trusted specialist. If your child needs ongoing treatment or is admitted to a hospital, the PCP may oversee the care, help you make decisions related to treatment, or refer you to other specialists if needed.
One of a PCP’s most important jobs is to help keep kids from getting sick in the first place. This is called preventive care.
The best preventive care means forming a relationship with a PCP you like and trust, taking your child for scheduled checkups and vaccines, and following the PCP’s advice for establishing a healthy lifestyle, managing weight, and getting the right amount of exercise.
Different types of PCPs treat kids and teens. Which is right for you depends on your family’s needs:
A PCP should be your first option for any medical condition that isn’t an emergency. Call the PCP if your child has:
When in doubt, call the PCP. Even if the PCP isn’t available, someone else in the office can talk with you and determine whether your child should go to the ER. On weekends and at night, PCPs often have answering services that allow them to get in touch with you if you leave a message.
Go to the ER if your child:
To find a PCP, start by asking yourself what matters to you. For instance, you’ll want the PCP’s office to take your health insurance and, ideally, be close to home. Other things to consider include how helpful and friendly the staff is, how easy it is to get in touch with the PCP, and whether the PCP’s office hours will work with your schedule.
Ask for recommendations from friends, neighbors, relatives, and doctors or nurses you already know and trust.
Once you have a list of candidates, learn what you can about the PCP. For instance, does he or she:
Find out about any extra services: some offices also have specialists, mental health providers, dieticians, lactation consultants, and social workers on the premises. It can be convenient to have all of these services under one roof.
Your health insurance plan may have a directory of preferred PCPs, and many practices will let you meet with a potential provider to see if he or she seems like a good fit for your child. And remember, although it’s easier to find and stick with one PCP, if you feel your child isn’t getting the level of care you’re looking for, you can always switch to another PCP./p>
What are nurse practitioners, and how do they differ from medical doctors?
Find out what the experts have to say.
These age-specific guides can help you be prepared for and keep track of your well-child visits.
When you go to the doctor for a checkup, it’s because your parents and your doctor want to see that you’re growing just the way you should. Read all about what happens at the doctor’s office.
You’re probably used to answering your doctor’s questions – not asking your own. But it’s your body, so you should be able to ask your doctor questions about anything you’d like. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Your best resource for health information and advice is your doctor – the person who knows you, your medical history, and accurate medical information to answer your questions.
Parents are likely to be stressed when a child is hospitalized, and questions about the people providing medical care and what roles they play can add to the confusion. Our guide can help.
Along with considering baby names andÂ buying a crib, choosing the right health care provider should be on your to-do list when you’re expecting.
Building a relationship with your child’s doctor requires communication and reasonable expectations.
The government’s healthcare marketplace, or exchange, is the new way to shop for health insurance. But just how do you find the best coverage and sign up? Get answers here.
Girls should get their first gynecological checkup between ages 13 and 15. Find out what happens during a yearly gyn visit — and why most girls don’t get internal exams.
Find out what the experts say.
Finding coverage for your kids may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Many kids are eligible for government or community programs, even if their parents work. Learn what resources are available to your family.
Involving teens in their health care can help prepare them for managing it on their own as adults.
The idea of going to the gynecologist may make your daughter feel nervous. Here’s how to make her feel more comfortable about a well-woman visit.
Figuring out health care is part of becoming an independent adult. Here are tips for teens on what that involves, and how to choose your own doctor.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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