Pediatrics is the branch of medicine dealing with the health and medical care of infants, children, and adolescents from birth up to the age of 18.
A pediatrician is a child’s physician who provides not only medical care for children who are acutely or chronically ill but also preventive health services for healthy children. A pediatrician manages physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the children under their care at every stage of development, in both sickness and health.
Pediatricians are physicians that provide care for infants, children, teenagers, and young adults. They specialize in diagnosing and treating problems specific to younger people. Most pediatricians treat common illnesses, minor injuries, and infectious diseases, and administer vaccinations.
Aims of pediatrics
The aims of the study of pediatrics is to reduce infant and child rate of deaths, control the spread of infectious disease, promote healthy lifestyles for a long disease-free life and help ease the problems of children and adolescents with chronic conditions.
Pediatricians diagnose and treat several conditions among children including:
■ genetic and congenital conditions
■ organ diseases and dysfunctions
Pediatrics is concerned not only about immediate management of the ill child but also long-term effects on quality of life, disability and survival. Pediatricians are involved with the prevention, early detection, and management of problems including:
■ developmental delays and disorders
■ behavioral problems
■ functional disabilities
■ social stresses
■ mental disorders including depression and anxiety disorders
What is this career like?
Many pediatricians work long, irregular, and overnight hours. Pediatricians may travel between their offices and hospitals to care for their patients. While on call, they may need to address a patient’s concerns over the phone or make an emergency visit to a hospital or nursing home.
Some of the things a pediatrician might do:
■ Take a patient’s medical history
■ Update charts and patient information to show current findings and treatments
■ Order tests for nurses or other healthcare staff to perform
■ Review test results to identify any abnormal findings
■ Recommend and design a plan of treatment
■ Address concerns or answer questions that patients have about their health and well-being
■ Help patients take care of their health by discussing topics such as proper nutrition and hygiene
What skills are needed?
■ Communication skills: Pediatricians need to be excellent communicators. They must communicate effectively with their patients and other healthcare support staff.
■ Compassion: Patients who are sick or injured may be in extreme pain or distress. Pediatricians must treat patients and their families with compassion and understanding.
■ Detail oriented: Patients must receive appropriate treatment and medications. Pediatricians must accurately monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.
■ Dexterity: Pediatricians may work with very precise and sometimes sharp tools, and mistakes can have serious consequences.
■ Leadership skills: Pediatricians who work in their own practice must manage a staff of other professionals.
■ Organizational skills: Good recordkeeping and other organizational skills are critical in both medical and business settings.
■ Patience: Pediatricians may work for long periods with patients who need special attention. Persons who fear medical treatment may require more patience.
■ Physical stamina: Pediatricians should be comfortable lifting or turn disabled patients or perform other physical tasks. Surgeons may spend a great deal of time bending over patients during surgery.
■ Problem-solving skills: Pediatricians need to evaluate patients’ symptoms and administer the appropriate treatments. They need to do this quickly if a patient’s life is threatened.
Pediatricians have diverse roles that may include prevention, screening, diagnosis and management of health conditions in young people. They may be involved with acute, chronic and preventative medical care, with an emphasis on the overall physical, emotional and mental health of all children.
It is important for pediatricians to consider all aspects of the child’s health, including their overall wellbeing as they grow and develop. They can help to improve a number of health outcomes for young people, such as reducing mortality and infection, while also encouraging healthy lifestyle choices to maintain good health.
Pediatricians have specific knowledge about the health and medical care of young people. As the bodies of children grow and develop into adulthood, they have certain needs, which are distinct from the needs of adults. For this reason, a pediatrician has a valuable role on the medical care team to advocate for the best health decisions for all children.