Everything You Need To Know About Becoming A Pediatrician

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Ever wondered how to become a pediatrician? A pediatrician is a medical doctor that provides a healthcare service for infants and young children.

As the bodies of young children evolve into adulthood, they require certain developmental needs which are far different to the needs of adults. Pediatricians play a valuable role in advocating the best healthcare decisions for all children.

What is the role of a pediatrician?

Pediatricians have the responsibility to monitor the well-being of young infants from birth till the age of 2 years and once a year from 2 years and upward. They are the first point of contact should your child fall ill and require medical care. It is important for pediatricians to take care of every aspect of children’s wellbeing to ensure that they grow and develop. They also need to ensure that they are improving children's health outcomes by encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and maintaining a healthy well-being. 

A pediatricians core responsibilities include:

  • Perform physical examination 
  • Issue child vaccinations
  • Ensure that children are meeting milestones in terms of growth, behaviour and skills
  • Diagnose and treat illnesses, diseases and other health care problems
  • Provide informative information regarding your child’s safety, nutrition and healthcare needs

How many years does it take to be pediatrician?

Students pursuing the career path of a pediatrician need to complete a bachelor’s degree. Once your bachelor’s qualification is obtained, you need to complete a residency program which allows students to perform all the practical work at a hospital where they are exposed to the various fields of pediatrician. This allows students to gain the hands-on experience that they need and work in the different areas in order to determine what field to specialise in as a pediatrician. The overall duration of studying to become a pediatrician takes approximately 7 years. 

Students pursuing their postgraduate study for specialisation as a paediatrician the candidate:

  • Must have their MBChB degree in possession for 2 years
  • Students must be registered as a medical doctor with the Interim Medical and Dental Council (IMDC) of South Africa for 1 year

Once students have successfully completed the examination to qualify as a specialist, the candidate must register with the IMDC as a paediatrician.

What skills are required to become a pediatrician?

Good communication skills - A pediatrician needs to be an excellent communicator.  In order to communicate effectively it is important to listen to the child and their guardians attentively. To make the interaction easier for children, pediatricians are expected to speak on the level of a child to ensure that they understand too. 

Compassion - Most of the time patients are in extreme pain that often cause distress. As a pediatrician, it is important to treat your patient and their parents with compassion and understanding during the causes of uncertainty. 

Problem-solving skills - Pediatricians need to analyse and evaluate their patients symptoms and determine the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is determined, the appropriate treatments and administering of medication needs to be given to the patient. This needs to be done as accurately as possible to avoid any life threatening danger to the patient. 

A way with working with kids -  Many kids are afraid of doctors, needles and all sorts of tests when being examined. As a pediatrician you need to ensure that you make the patient feel completely comfortable and put them at ease when examining them. Making kids laugh is always the best cure and way to ease the nervousness and anxiety. 

Observant - It is important to run a thorough examination and not only check on the issues that patients are coming to see you about. Being observant can help save patients’ lives, and it is one way of countering any other potential issues that may occur. 

These are the 5 skills needed to be a pediatrician. Is becoming a pediatrician hard? With every career you go into, at first everything will feel challenging but with hardwork and practise, you'll quickly nail it.

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