Pediatricians are physicians trained to care for the medical and health needs of patients below the age of 21. They are also responsible for handling uneasy toddlers and making them feel safe and secure. They also answer calls from parents worried about feverish children at odd times.
Pediatricians are equipped with the knowledge and skill to treat, diagnose and prevent common, and uncommon, diseases and conditions affecting the society’s younger generation. On an average, they go through 13 years of training and education to become one.
What is a Pediatrician?
A pediatrician is a specialist in giving younger patients (from birth to adulthood) medical care. This can be all the way until they are 21 years old or at the very least up to their late teens.
It is the duty of all pediatricians to diagnose & treat ailments generally affecting infants, babies, children, adolescents and young adults. They also assist younger patients in maintaining good health and diet patterns.
Pediatricians are often primarily trained to:
- Diagnose & treat illnesses associate typically with children.
- Addressing special medical needs of younger patients, like genetic defects, malignancies, childhood infections and injury.
- Assessing proper treatment approaches catering to the patient’s specific age.
- Performing annual check-ups, routine examinations and immunizations.
- Determining whether a child is experiencing normal growth & development (or not).
- Ordering needed tests, prescribing appropriate medications and performing medical procedures.
- Providing medical care for children who are acutely or chronically ill.
- Working towards reducing infant & child mortality.
A child’s physical well-being is a critical part of a pediatrician’s job. Preventive health maintenance, counseling provided to children and patients may pertain to various issues (diet, exercise, hygiene and the like).
Pediatricians are also involved with early detection and management of health issues (and other ones) affecting the development, growth, safety and health of children. Among the issues detected are difficulties in behavior. Social issues, development issues, basic function difficulties, depression and anxiety disorders are among the issues diagnosed.
In short, pediatrics is a specialty of medicine that is chiefly concerned with the physical, emotional and social health of children. A top-notch Caribbean school of medicine also offers studies in pediatric sciences and pediatric medicine.
There are also many sub-specialties a pediatrician can choose to pursue in order to provide care to patients with more specific conditions. For instance:
- Pediatric allergists treat and oversee children having issues in their immune systems such as allergies, asthma, eczema and the like.
- Pediatric anesthesiologists assist in managing infants and children undergoing surgical procedures.
- Pediatric development specialists treat infants and children with medical issues that affect their development, like muscular dystrophy, physical deformities, ADHD and the like.
- Pediatric cardiologists are trained to perform echocardiograms on children having heart and coronary issues.
- Pediatric dermatologists specialize in treating skin issues in children.
- Pediatric urologists perform genital and urinary tract surgeries on infants and children.
A pediatrician’s educational track
How to become a pediatrician is a question a medicine enthusiast asks when they think of studying to become one. The following points can help explain the process of becoming a pediatrician:
Earning a bachelor’s degree in related disciplines
At least 3 years of studies at a college or university in a biological sciences degree, or a pre-med complete are needed to gain admission in a medical school for pediatric studies. Most medical students at that time earn an undergraduate or an advanced degree by the time they enter medical school.
Other students satisfy such prerequisites by studying math & science courses in physics, biology, inorganic and organic chemistry.
Students with a clear goal of becoming a pediatrician upon starting an undergraduate program can choose to major in child psychology or another discipline in close relation to pediatrics.
Applying to medical school for pediatric studies
Earning a Doctor of Medicine (M.D) degree or Doctor of Osteopathy (O.D) degree is a prime need if medical students wish to become a pediatrician. Often medical schools’ applicants need to submit their pre-med and MCAT scores in order to enter medical school.
The MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) is a standardized examination that measures a student’s knowledge and understanding of physical & biological sciences. Students usually take this exam during his or her third year of undergraduate studies.
Completing a medical school program
Medical school usually takes 4 years to complete. Coursework during the first 2 years consists of training relating to anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, and medical ethics. The remaining two years of training are spent learning how to care for patients in practical medical settings under the guidance and supervision of experienced physicians.