We asked Pauline J. Rolle, MD, pediatrician at Ascension St. Vincent’s in Jacksonville, Florida to help us answer some common questions parents and expecting families have about pediatricians.
What does a pediatrician do?
Partners with you in your child’s care
A pediatrician is your partner in your child’s care. Your child’s care team should care for the whole child from physical health and well-being to mental and emotional health. At Ascension St. Vincent’s families get all of their care needs met in one place.
Provides regular exams to monitor your child’s growth
Pediatricians at Ascension St. Vincent provide well-child exams to monitor every stage of your child’s development. Infants are seen for their first well-child exam within three to five days after they are born. After that they visit their pediatrician at least every other month for the first year. During your child’s second year, they should see their doctor for a checkup every three months. Another visit should be scheduled around 30 months. It’s important to know every stage of your child's development to ensure they have a great start in life. During these exams you can address any concerns about your child’s growth. Once your child reaches the age of three, visits to the doctor will be at least yearly.
Your child’ doctor gives vaccines and educates
Pediatrician also provides your child with their vaccines. Your pediatrician will discuss the routinely recommended vaccines based on your child’s age. They will explain the immunizations to help you understand why they're important and any possible side effects.
Is a pediatrician a doctor?
A pediatrician is a doctor. Typically pediatricians have been to an accredited medical school in the United States for four years. Pediatricians may have also graduated from a foreign medical school recognized by the World Health Organization. This typically follows four years of a bachelor's degree program. Sometimes if it is a combined program the total time of school may be six years instead of eight.
Doctors who want to become a pediatrician complete three years of training in an accredited pediatric residency program. Pediatricians who are interested in a subspecialty may spend an additional three to six years training in that area. During this training pediatricians complete 12,000 to 14,000 hours of clinical training.
Not all pediatricians are board certified and it is not a requirement to practice. Many providers choose this voluntary option to further demonstrate their commitment to continuing to expand their knowledge in the care of children. Pediatricians must demonstrate clinical competence and professional and ethical behavior in addition to the above education requirements. They also have to pass a comprehensive one-day exam. Certification is obtained through the American Board of Pediatrics.
How do I choose a pediatrician?
Call to get more information about a pediatrician
Before deciding if a pediatrician is right for you, you can call to schedule an appointment to make sure your provider and or the office will be the right fit for you and your family. This can be done before your baby arrives, after they are born or even when you feel it may be time to change providers.
Look for a provider close to you that’s covered by your insurance
Many people may look at where the office is located in relation to where they live, their child’s school or where they work. Another factor for many families is whether or not the pediatrician is covered under their medical insurance. It’s always a good idea to check with your insurance company before making a decision on your provider.
Find someone who can answer your questions and concerns
Your doctor is your partner in health, from helping your child recover from childhood illness to managing more serious health concerns.When finding a doctor to care for your child, you are building a lifelong relationship with your pediatrician. Your child will see their pediatrician from the time they're born until they are 18 or more years old. You want to make sure you have a pediatrician with whom you feel comfortable with, who you can talk to and who you feel like hears you and is there for you and your family.
You want to make sure that you have a pediatrician who listens to you and can answer your questions. While your pediatrician may not know everything, there should never be a time when they say sorry we can't help you. They should be able to say, let me get that for you, let me look into that for you. We are partnering with you in your child's help and so the expectation should be, we are there to help.
Find a doctor who listens
Ascension Medical Group St. Vincent’s Pediatrics answers your questions big and small. By knowing you and your child well, your child’s pediatric care team can deliver personalized care that fits your child’s physical and emotional health needs.Your doctor can help your child stay well by finding health problems early when they are most treatable. To find a pediatrician near you visit ascension.org/doctors.
Dr. Rolle is a board certified pediatrician at Ascension Medical Group St. Vincent’s Pediatrics in Jacksonville Beach and provides primary care for infants, children and teens. She also serves as the medical director for all of Ascension Medical Group St. Vincent’s Pediatrics clinics.