A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in care of children aged 17 and under. In most cases children receive the care of a pediatrician from as early as the day they are born until they turn 18 years of age. At this time the patient will begin seeing a practitioner who specializes in the care of adults. However, a lifetime of health records compiled by the pediatrician will follow the adult to his new doctor. These records will provide valuable insight into the health history of the patient. This article will profile the career of a pediatrician and provide information on education, daily tasks and outlook for the career.
Becoming a pediatrician is not a complicated process but it is by no means an easy one either. Before beginning a practice as a pediatrician a number of steps must be taken. The first step is to enter a college program, ideally in a pre-medicine program. Here the student will take a number of classes which will be very beneficial later in life including classes in biology, chemistry and physiology. After obtaining an undergraduate college degree, it is necessary to apply to, and be accepted to, medical school. This is a competitive process with the number of students vying for admittance to medical school greatly outnumbering the spots available. After completing a four year medical school program, graduates typically complete a one year internship and a two year residency program. It is also necessary to pass licensing examinations and complete all state requirements before beginning practice as a pediatrician.
You may have a basic understanding of what a pediatrician does but to really understand this profession it is important to look at the daily tasks a pediatrician may perform each day. A small sampling of the tasks a pediatrician may complete in a typical day include, but are not limited to:
- Examining newborns for overall health and complications
- Performing circumcision
- Examining children coming into the office for wellness checks
- Administering immunizations
- Examining children coming into the office with a variety of symptoms
- Prescribing medications when necessary to treat illnesses
- Ordering lab tests to determine cause of symptoms
- Examining lab reports for abnormalities
- Responding to questions from concerned parents
- Educating new parents about child care
As if the tasks listed above are not difficult enough, pediatricians have other responsibilities as well. Specifically they have a responsibility to explain illnesses, treatment plans and other aspects of the care of the child to parents in a way they can easily understand. This is extremely important because parents with a seriously ill child must fully understand the illness and treatment options in order to make informed decision. Finally, while it is not a requirement, good pediatricians also have a great deal of compassion. This is often referred to as, “bedside manner,” and refers to the way in which the practitioner interacts with the patient and family members.
Although the competition for jobs in pediatrics can be quite competitive, the outlook for those who choose this profession is quite promising. Students studying medicine with the intention to enter pediatrics have a wide range of specialties from which to choose. They may concentration in areas such as neonatal care, prenatal care, pediatric cardiology, pediatric gastroenterology, pediatric critical care, pediatric emergency medicine, pediatric infectious disease, pediatric physical medicine or pediatric sports medicine to name just a few options.