To give your child a healthy start, you need to have a primary doctor for him or her. This doctor, sometimes called your primary care provider or PCP, is the person you can count on to take care of your family’s medical needs, from first checkups to treatment for illness and injuries.
When should my child start going to the doctor?
If you don’t have a primary doctor yet, it is important to find one soon. Every child should have a pediatrician or family physician nearby who serves as his or her medical home—a partnership between you, your child and your child’s doctor—that provides consistent, coordinated care.
Your child’s doctor wants to be sure your child starts healthy and stays healthy. The sooner you visit your doctor, the sooner you can:
- Be certain your child receives necessary immunizations*
- Find problems and get advice
- Schedule regular checkups
And when your child is sick or injured, you’ll want to see someone who already knows your family’s health history, rather than “starting over” at an emergency room or urgent care center.
Where can I find a doctor for my child?
If your family doesn’t already have a doctor, or you’re not sure where to find one, contact your child’s health insurance provider to get a list of pediatricians and family physicians included in your plan. It can also help to ask family or friends if they know of a doctor they’ve used and who they trust. If your child doesn’t have health insurance, visit CoverKids, TennCare or healthcare.gov to learn about insurance options available to children in Tennessee. You can also check with your local health department.
What if my child needs a specialist?
Your primary doctor should always be your first call for your family’s medical needs. He or she can usually handle most issues, but if a specialist is needed, your primary doctor can help arrange appointments with that physician and coordinate any additional treatment.And no matter which specialist you might have to see eventually, you will feel more comfortable first talking about your child’s health with a doctor who knows you and cares about your child.
A primary doctor makes good health easier.
Having a primary care provider can help you:
- Ask questions about your child’s health or development
- Talk about your family's needs and concerns
- Keep up with important information like shot records, test results and appointment times
- Work as a team with your child's doctor to make a plan that meets your family's needs
Together, you and your doctor can help your child start out healthy, avoid diseases and enjoy a healthier, happier life.