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Best Pediatrician May Be a Family Doctor

November 23, 1998

Connie Koenenn's article "Expect Homework in Selecting a Pediatrician" (Sept. 28) omitted an important decision point in the selection of a physician for a new baby or for other children.

Should your child's doctor be a specialist in care of the whole family, one who already knows your family's history, and whose training concentrated on treating the child as a whole person, not as a series of organ systems?

Ms. Koenenn and Drs. Stern and Ben-Isaac, whom she quotes, make many excellent points. Your readers would be well-advised to follow the steps outlined in the article, as long as they remember that most of the over 6,000 family physicians in California regularly treat children and welcome individuals of all ages in their practices.

Family physicians are specialists whose comprehensive training includes required proficiency in pediatrics, behavioral health, family counseling and community medicine, as well as many other disciplines. The family doctor views the child as a complete individual within the context of the family. Personal knowledge of the family helps him or her make accurate and timely diagnoses. He or she can best coordinate all the family's health-care needs from immunizations and routine checkups to the care of chronic and severe illnesses.

In choosing a family physician, your readers should look for one who is certified by the American Board of Family Practice, and / or is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, in the same way your article suggested about the corresponding pediatric organizations. Some of your readers will want to choose a pediatric specialist for their children; many will prefer the comprehensive family-centered care they can only receive from their own family doctor, their specialist in family medicine.

--DR. ROBERT C.M. BOURNE

President-elect

California Academy of Family Physicians

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