EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU)— Over the years, pediatric care has evolved from the length of wellness visits to the depth of the visits.

The scope of the pediatrician’s role is different today compared to ten years ago.

Dr. Karen Ephlin is a pediatrician with Geisinger Health System and has been treating patients for more than a decade. Dr. Ephlin said creating bonds with families is what she loves best about caring for children.

“You’re just excited to see them at their checkups, to see what they’ve been doing, it’s really nice to have those bonds,” Dr. Ephlin told Eyewitness News.

Over the years, Dr. Ephlin has seen changes in how medicine is practiced. According to the pediatrician, new vaccines have decreased the burden of infectious diseases in primary care, but the care of children with behavioral health problems has escalated. Dr. Ephlin said nowadays, there’s more emphasis on the entire well-being of the patient.

“Before you’d go get your shots, get weighed, measured your ok, now? Let’s talk about how you’re feeling how’s everything going at school, having any problems with friends, how are you feeling are things going well for you it’s a different visit now,” Dr. Ephlin said.

And those visits have doubled in length. Wellness visits that used to take 20 minutes have now doubled to 40 minutes.

“They’re different things teenagers that they want to keep private so they might want to talk about sexuality that they’re not ready to talk about with their parents at the time, or maybe they have a drug substance use we can talk about that, and keep it private,” Dr. Ephlin explained.

Other topics that are being more openly discussed with pediatricians are gender identity issues. Dr. Ephlin sees patients as young as 8 who are transitioning.

“We have several patients in our practice who are transitioning and we are very open with our families. As people are more comfortable as there are areas that have gender clinics and hormonal treatments or looking toward surgery, were seeing much more of that,” Dr. Ephlin told Eyewitness News.