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What is a pediatrician? Q&A with Dr. Adrienne Aschmetat

Dr. Adrienne Aschmetat is a new internal medicine and pediatric provider with Oaklawn Medical Group. Being that Dr. Aschmetat’s training allows her to see patients of all ages, you might wonder how this is different from a family practice provider. We sat down with Dr. Aschmetat to get a better understanding of what an internal medicine and pediatric provider does and what the benefits are of seeing a provider with her qualifications. 

Since you both see patients of all ages, how is an internal medicine pediatric provider different from family practice?

Internal medicine pediatrics is a dual specialty where we actually trained as an internist in internal medicine and a pediatrician in pediatrics. One of the biggest differences is that internal medicine pediatric providers predominately do most of their training in the hospital with a lot of critical care training and some outpatient training. In the family practice world they do most of their training in an outpatient setting with some inpatient training. They also manage pregnancy and are trained to deliver babies, whereas internal medicine pediatric providers do not.

As a pediatrician, what services do you provide?

A pediatrician sees children from day one to age 21, and we do primarily well child care and acute child care, in addition to chronic disease management for our patients. So we manage more common things like asthma, allergies, and ADHD, in addition to chronic diseases depending on the provider’s comfort level with those diseases. For example, this could be a cystic fibrosis patient, or a patient who’s an ex-NICU grad with a lot of healthcare needs. 

Do you provide any inpatient pediatric services?

I also provide inpatient services to newborns. I will attend emergency deliveries or visit any babies that are having challenges or are sick, as well as see the newborns for well care after they’re born. I’m in a call rotation so we have a number of other primary care providers who do provide that service as well. Additionally, when I am in the hospital providing a service to newborns I also do you have the capacity to admit pediatric patients to the floor, if needed, for medical care and I’ll work collaboratively with the emergency room in order to do that.

How does your training allow you to meet the needs of chronic disease or special needs patients?

I have a fond appreciation for chronic disease patients and special needs patients, seeing them as a pediatric provider and growing with them into adulthood. I have a very unique perspective in that I can bring internal medicine viewpoints and perspectives into the pediatric realm. We’re starting to see a lot of chronic conditions presenting earlier in life like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. These were things that we often previously thought of as primarily adult conditions. My training allows me to have that long-term perspective, considering how we would treat a patient as an adult and bringing that into the pediatric realm. I’m also able to bring a pediatric perspective into the adult realm, getting birth histories on my adult patients, and talking about their childhood which can significantly impact their adult health outcomes. There are also geriatric patients who lose developmental milestones in reverse order. We’re all big kids so to speak.

This unique perspective really helps me span the gap of following a chronic needs patient. For example,  I might have an ex-NICU grad who has lung issues and a cardiac defect. Or patients with Down Syndrome have very unique childhood needs that follow them into adulthood, as well as very adult-like problems presenting early. My training allows me to be able to follow them for the lifespan of their needs.

Does your training as an osteopathic provider add any other unique component to your services?

Yes, I am an osteopathic provider who utilizes hands-on medicine very similar to chiropractic, but also very different and I have a much broader expanse of training in hands-on medicine compared to what a chiropractor might bring. This allows me to assess a patient’s unique chronic disease needs and then provide them hands-on care as well. It could be for something like an asthma attack where I actually do some muscle relaxation and structural rebalancing, or it might just be for something like back pain. I even  work on babies for things like the flat spot on their head or the krink in the neck. I provide this service to patients of all ages, from babies all the way through geriatric patients.

As a pediatrician, do you work closely with other pediatric providers in order to provide a strong continuity of care?

Anyone providing pediatric care would potentially be utilizing pediatric services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech therapy which are very common support services that are required when you do pediatric care. Thankfully, we offer those at Oaklawn, which is a really great service to the community to have a robust pediatric therapy support service available. As a pediatrician, we would work collaboratively with our therapists back and forth regarding the patient’s ongoing needs, while having oversight of their continued care plan and close follow-up communication with those service lines. The fact that we offer them locally is very advantageous to patients, not only from an access standpoint and getting in quickly, but also from a collaborative standpoint.

Dr. Aschmetat is currently accepting new patients and is located at Oaklawn Medical Group – Marshall Internal, Family Medicine and Pediatrics.