Transferable skills, often called soft skills, are personal traits or qualities pediatricians possess that make them effective in treating sick or injured children, even beyond technical medical knowledge. These are skills you have attained through education, other jobs or life experiences. The right combination of transferable skills -- along with medical school, you can land a job where the median pay was $168,650 a year as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Sense of Humor
The life of a pediatrician is not all cute babies and giggles. Daily stresses can include crying and screaming infants, upset or concerned parents, and the occasional joy of being vomited on. Pediatricians must combine a sense of humor with compassion to provide excellent medical care. They face these stresses routinely, and pediatricians with a sense of humor more easily go with the flow and enjoy their careers. If you tend to tense up or naturally become irritable under stress, pediatrics may not be a good fit.
Much of a pediatrician's day is spent managing the emotions of others while keeping her own in check. This requires emotional intelligence. In direct care, pediatricians need to understand the emotional nature and development of children to make proper assessments of physical and mental care. This is especially difficult given that infants and babies typically can't communicate their feelings verbally. Additionally, because pediatricians often deal with the parents of small children, they need to have an understanding of the instincts and emotional tendencies of parents dealing with sick kids.
A basic sense of compassion is a quality patients generally admire in all doctors. Frankly, if you don't have a genuine interest in other people and a desire to help, pediatrics is not your calling. Pediatricians especially should have genuine compassion for the well-being of the delicate people they treat. Without a love and joy in helping ill children, a pediatrician can easily become burned out from her work over the course of a career.
Pediatricians need a sense of curiosity to keep up with reading and research, and often, to be pioneers in the field of pediatrics. Journal reading, continuing education and seminars, and participation in research studies are ways in which a curious pediatrician stays on top of the most current and effective methods to diagnose and treat childhood illness and disease. If you have passion for pediatrics, you can develop a higher level of curiosity through disciplined effort and commitment to learning.
All doctors need to communicate, but pediatricians have heightened challenges given the clientele of children from birth through the age of 21. Pediatrician Lynne Haverkos also noted in a "LifeWorks" interview that she routinely communicates with researchers and other medical professionals. Communication skills are learned in a variety of experiences, including classes, other jobs and in social situations. This includes an ability to deliver clear, articulate messages and the ability to listen to feelings and concerns of others.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011: Pediatricians, General
- Children's Physicians in Partnership with Creighton University: Find a Pediatrician: Francis J. Harrison, M.D.
- Ohio State University: What is a pediatrician?
- National Institutes of Health Office of Science Education: Meet a Real Physician, Pediatrician, Lynne Haverkos
- Maine Medical Partners: Pediatrics
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