Working with children who are sick or hurt can be a tough job. The smallest child may be unable to tell you what hurts or just how she feels, while a preteen may be too embarrassed about normal body functions to share her symptoms. A rebellious teenager may deliberately choose to withhold information that could help her physician make a diagnosis. Children go through many different stages of development; a pediatrician must be knowledgeable about each stage and able to relate to children of different ages.
Pediatricians are medical doctors who specialize in the care of children. Like all physicians, they must complete medical school and residency, pass exams to be licensed to practice and pass other exams to be certified in their specialty. Some pediatricians specialize in newborn care while others work with children of all ages, up to the late teens. Other pediatricians may specialize in a particular aspect of care such as pediatric cardiology. Pediatricians earned an average annual salary of $168,650 in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Intelligence, compassion and maturity
A pediatrician must have the intellectual smarts to be successful in medical school and to continue learning throughout her professional career. She should enjoy working with people, especially children. Although pediatricians should possess a healthy dose of compassion, they must also be able to do things that may cause a child pain, such as give an injection or perform surgery. A pediatrician who is not emotionally mature may find it difficult to balance the personal and professional demands of her career.
Teaching and communication
Pediatricians do a lot of teaching. New parents must be taught to care for their infant. Most parents need instruction on normal developmental stages, basic safety precautions and what to do in an emergency. Pediatricians may also teach nurses or medical students about child health and disease. Communication skills are very important in a pediatrician's repertoire, as these doctors must adjust to parents, medical professionals, children of all ages and people who may have no medical knowledge or limited English skills. A pediatrician must also be able to listen carefully for tiny clues to a child's illness or injury.
A pediatrician must be able to reason logically to solve complicated medical problems or to make a diagnosis. She should be able to consider all the possible costs and benefits of various medical therapies to ensure she selects one that is right for a particular condition and an individual patient. She must be able to apply scientific principles to her clinical work while also being aware that the answers may not be found in books -- sometimes she has to use her intuition.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2011 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates -- United States
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physicians and Surgeons
- My Majors.com: Careers -- Pediatrician
- ONET Online: Summary Report for 29-1065.00 - Pediatricians, General
- Alberta Occupational Profiles: Pediatrician
- Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images