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Facts About Pediatricians

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For most of the history of medicine, children were treated by the same doctors using the same methods as for adults. The French first recognized that children had different requirements and established Hôpital des Enfants Malades, the first children’s hospital in Paris in 1802. This was on the site of an old orphanage.

A pediatrician checking vital signs of a young boyA pediatrician checking vital signs of a young boy. © US Navy photo by Journalist S. Ryan Clement.

Why pediatricians?

It soon became apparent that because of body size, mass and resistance to illness differed from adults that the medical specialty of pediatricians was born. Other countries slowly followed suit and now it is generally accepted that if one’s child has a medical emergency one looks for a Pediatrician.

Children’s doctors

Normally before specialization, a pediatrician has to become a doctor. This requires 5 or six years of university training plus a lot of general practice in a hospital. This is important to ensure that the base knowledge is sound. They will then undertake a further period of training and examinations before being allowed to practice as a Pediatrician.

Children’s illnesses

Measles, Mumps and Rubella are common, severe sicknesses to which children are susceptible. Vaccination of these diseases in the first world countries are almost universal, and compulsory although some resistance has latterly arisen to the MMR vaccine as there is hearsay evidence that it may result in autism. Polio is another disease that has largely been eradicated with vaccination. The treatment of these as well as chicken pox, and numerous other childhood ailments is the job of the Pediatrician.

Minor vs Major

Generally, Pediatricians deal with babies and young adolescents up to the age of 15. These are all legally minors and are unable to make decisions for themselves. For this reason, the treatment has to be discussed and “signed off” by the child’s guardian. Thus, not only must the pediatrician be a child doctor but must be skilled in negotiating and explaining proposed course of treatment with adults.

General Practitioners and Pediatricians

GPs are always the first port of call. For treatment of a cold, cough or grazed knee, a GP will be able to prescribe antibiotics and bandage and sew up normal cuts and abrasions. However, if the child has a chronic problem, most GPs will suggest and the parents should insist on consulting a Pediatrician.

How long does it take to become a pediatrician?

About 11 years. You will need 4 years in college, 4 years in a medical school, one year as a Pediatrician internship and 2 years as a residence. You will only get paid once you start your internship and residency. It may take a long time but most Pediatrician says that it is worth it.