Pediatricians have a lot to enjoy in their work. As of May 2011, they earned a an average annual salary of $168,650, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, many pediatricians find satisfaction in the ability to help children heal from illnesses and feel better. However, a career as a pediatrician is not without some dangers.
Virtually every field of medicine has controversial issues related to treatments and procedures. This is certainly true in pediatrics. Pediatricians must often face these controversies when dealing with questions from concerned parents. Circumcision for boys is often a hotly debated topic in pediatrics. Debate about the influence of vaccinations on autism and other conditions also reaches the forefront. Pediatricians must be equipped with research, knowledge and their own convictions in responding to community and patient questions.
The appeal of treating babies and small children can quickly turn to concern for your health when a child throws a fit in your office. Screaming babies; flailing toddlers who don't want to be poked and prodded or given a shot; and vomiting are all regular occurrences during a pediatrician's work day. While many of these situations leave only minor scratches and bruises, a firmly and strategically planted hit or kick to the face -- or other parts of the body -- can cause serious pain or injury.
Emotional intelligence and compassion are personal qualities that serve you well as a pediatrician. However, a highly sympathetic nature and a tendency to quickly build emotional attachments can lead to stress, pain and grief as a pediatrician. Over time, it is common for pediatricians to bond somewhat with patients and parents. However, strong attachments may become an issue when a child becomes critically ill and you have to make logical, sound decisions for care. Additionally, you may have to deal with traumatic events or even death affecting a child in your care. While some level of grief is natural and healthy, an abundance may negatively affect your ability to provide care moving forward.
One of the most serious dangers of being a pediatrician is the propensity for lawsuits. All doctors face a high rate of lawsuits, according to an August 2011 study by the New England Journal of Medicine. While pediatricians have a relatively low rate of lawsuits each year -- only 3.1 percent are sued each year -- their payments to plaintiffs for damages on lost cases is the highest in the medical profession, at $520,923 per case. This is enough to financially devastate many professionals.
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