The simplest answer for "What is a pediatrician?"
The simplest answer is a medical doctor trained beyond basic physician training in the particular skills necessary to provide:
- Immediate care for acute illness in a newborn, child, teenager and young adult up to 21 years.
- Ongoing preventive health maintenance in children of all ages
- Continuous care of chronic illness in children
Family Physicians may fit the role of a Pediatrician if they have reasonable experience, training and interest in providing care to the pediatric population. Thus while people may seek pediatricians, there are many family physicians that fill the role also.
Doctors see to the health of a patient and pediatricians as doctors for children see to the optimal mental, physical and emotional well-being of their patients and not just the absence of disease. This is the WHO definition that has not been amended since 1984. Thus pediatricians may enlist the help of other healthcare or allied health professionals in the discharge of their duties. These professionals include:
- Dentists and Pediatric Dentists
- Social Workers
- Orthopedic Surgeons
- Plastic Surgeons
They may also involve the school nurses, counsellors and law enforcement agencies.
The main areas of focus of a pediatrician's job are in areas relating to:
- reducing death of infants/children (infant/childhood mortality)
- educating families about illness and health and helping them lead healthy lifestyles based on the available science
- advocating for children, children's rights and children's education
- promoting the use of modern interventions including basic hygiene and immunizations to prevent childhood infections
The Omega Promise
Here at Omega Pediatrics in Roswell, GA, we know that the role of the pediatrician is key in the overall health of families that is why we have developed a 3D model of access that ensures that we can be reached at any time by the families we cater for their children. Thus we ensure access and that is one of the pillars of our promise.
Pediatricians are first to notice
For many conditions of ill health in children, pediatricians are usually the first to notice the abnormalities. This is because the pediatricians build relationships with both the children and their parents, thus establishing a channel of communication. That makes it easier to hear about parental concerns and to notice abnormalities in physical issues (deformities), mental health ( like anxiety or depression), behavior (ADHD, developmental disorders) or functional problems like prolonged bed-wetting or temper tantrums.
Sub-sections of Being a Pediatrician
In the United States as well as in many other countries with increasingly sophisticated health systems, the subset of children being seen and cared for by the general pediatrician has become more segmented as some pediatricians spend extra time in study and research and then graduate to become sub-specialists.
- Neonatologists - newborn to 1 month of age children including premature infants delivered before they were term.
- Adolescent Medicine Pediatrician who spends more time focused on the problems often seen in adolescents and teenagers.
- Behavioral Pediatrician which is a pediatrician focused more on the behavioral problems of children such as school avoidance, bedwetting, dyslexia, learning disorder autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
As time goes on new sub-specialties will emerge and we will continue to look for ways to keep children healthy.
What training is required to become a pediatrician?
The training to become a pediatrician involves two post-high school phases:
- The individual must first train to become a medical doctor following an undergraduate degree and then the completion of medical school. (6-8 years)
- The second phase is the completion of a pediatric residency training program which (in the United States) must be a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) (3 years)
Many Pediatricians work in hospitals as hospitalists or sub-specialists after additional training. Others work in primary care clinics as pediatricians and help coordinate the medical home for families in the communities.