Work Conditions for Pediatricians

Pediatricians must be able to communicate well with children.

Pediatricians must be able to communicate well with children.

Pediatricians perform basic and advanced medical services for children from birth until the early adult years. These doctors have a unique opportunity to build the respect and friendship of parents as they treat the illnesses of their precious children. While this position pays very well and is held in high esteem by many, there are certainly pitfalls and challenges to performing these critical duties. In particular, the working conditions of a pediatrician have good and bad points.

Location

Pediatricians, specialists needing a high concentration of potential clients due to the nature of the position, often establish a practice in an urban area. The New York City metropolitan area, for example, led the nation in 2012 with 1700 pediatricians. It is common for these doctors to share a practice with a group of general pediatricians or specialists. Some pediatricians establish their practice inside a general or children's hospital. Few pediatricians practice in rural areas unless on a rotation schedule within a general medical practice.

Office Dynamics

Pediatric clinics are designed to meet the medical and emotional needs of children and young adults. The office setting will typically have bright, colorful decorations. The office will often have a sequestered section for ill children to wait, away from another section for healthy children waiting for a well visit. There may be televisions, video games and books or toys in these rooms to keep the children entertained, and to help relieve their anxiety from coming to the office. These factors along with the propensity for ill or hurt children to cry often results in a very noisy office.

Typical Work Day

Pediatricians often work 60-hour weeks or more, meeting children and parents and diagnosing conditions. They are typically on call at all times to assist in emergency or preoperative hospital visits for their established clients, although they may make arrangements with colleagues within their practice to perform this on a rotating basis. Pediatricians typically have a full schedule of patients throughout a day, seeing them back-to-back with little time between them. They have some time to review charts and research conditions and medicine as needed between patients and will also perform some of this preparation before and after their office hours. It is common to see children with substantial injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to broken bones. There is frequent exposure to the bodily fluid of sick and injured children throughout a work day as well.

Other Considerations

Working with children and their parents can be a stressful challenge. Children often resist medical procedures and taking medicine. Pediatricians must develop skill in talking to children and their parents to diagnose and treat their illnesses. Conflicts with overprotective parents demanding certain treatments, such as prescribing antibiotics, can lead to anxiety. In a small clinic, assisting in paperwork, billing and collections can become a sizable part of the job. Compliance with federal regulations dealing with privacy and paperwork documentation can also cause job stress. Seeking a balance between seeking appropriate and useful treatments and the fear of litigation can be a sizable challenge as well.

 

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