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What to Expect at Well-Child Visits

If you're like most parents, you take your child to the pediatrician for regular checkups, vaccinations, and height and weight monitoring. Of course, you also call the doc when your child is sick. But if these are the only issues you bring up with your kid's physician, you may be missing out on valuable advice. The profession has been changing, and pediatricians today consider issues like preventing obesity, using technology wisely, and even dealing with bullying to be important health concerns they can help kids and their parents navigate. More women in the profession and the trend toward group practices are also changing pediatrics. Parents in the know can take advantage of these changes to get more and better care for their children.

Who's Your Doctor?

Your child's doctor is just as likely to be a woman as a man. In 1993, 40 percent of practicing pediatricians were women, but by 2000 that percentage had risen to 48 percent. The trend continues: A 2010 survey of pediatric residents—brand-new M.D.'s—found that 76 percent are now women.

Many pediatricians are now part of group practices. For patients, that means they may not always be able to see their “regular” doctor, but they will get to know all the doctors in the practice over time. “Do try to make sure you see your own doctor at least every few visits or so,” urges Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “Having a close relationship with at least one of the doctors will help your child feel more comfortable talking about things, and help the doctor get to know the whole child in order to provide better care.”