You are at the local grocery store and your child says, “My ear hurts”. You notice that the store has an Urgent Treatment Center (UTC). So you have a choice of going in to see the practitioner in the UTC or calling your pediatrician for an appointment. When you have this choice, it is important to remember some other issues besides just convenience of the location in the store where you are. This is true of any visit to a UTC while you are within the vicinity of your pediatrician. When out of town, a UTC may be appropriate versus an ER visit.
One primary issue is who is staffing the UTC. Is this person a phycisian (MD – Medical Doctor) or another practitioner? These different titles delineate the amount of training the individual has had. A pediatrician has had 3 years of pediatric training and 4 year of medical school. Few other practitioners have any where near this amount of training in taking care of children.
Another point to consider is access to your child’s records. At your pediatrician’s office, the doctor will be able to check the chart for allergies, frequency of infections, last medication, complications of prior medicines and other specifics related to your child.
Overall, your child will have more complete care at the Pediatrician’s office. Even though convenience is a reason to consider, keep in mind what you will receive with the visit with your Pediatrician.
Katrina Hood, MD. FAAP
Pediatric & Adolescent Associates