Pediatrician (Pais– Child, iatros– healer) is a doctor who manages the health- including the physical, mental and emotional well-being of your child. Pediatricians have an education that provides them with the special training and skills required to take care of your child’s health and treat his/her illnesses. Generally one can consult a Pediatrician from the newborn period till 18 years of age.
Children are not small adults. The growing child is physiologically different from an adult. Hence it’s better to consult a Pediatrician for your child’s health rather than a General Practitioner or a Family Physician.
Overview of what a pediatrician does
The visits to a Pediatrician can be either for a healthy child checkup or for a consultation for a specific sickness.
During a healthy child checkup, your Pediatrician will ask you some queries and complete a full examination of your child to ensure that;
– Your child is growing well
– The development of your child is appropriate for his/her age
– Your child is protected from various diseases by administering vaccinations
– Your child learns healthy habits in daily life
When your child is sick, your Pediatrician will treat the illness, give you information regarding the course of the illness, measures to prevent it from recurring, and refer you to the specialists if needed.
Role of Pediatricians in educating and supporting the family
A Pediatrician’s role starts from the labor room- once he/ she receives your baby and ensures that the baby is healthy enough to be sent home. At this joyous moment, your Pediatrician will educate you about baby care and feeding. Later during every monthly visit for your baby’s Immunization, your Pediatrician will assess the growth and development of your child and advice certain interventions if needed. When your baby is 6 months old, your Pediatrician will advise you regarding healthy weaning practices. The milestones to be expected will also be discussed. Slowly as your baby crosses infancy and enters the toddler stage, your Pediatrician will conduct regular screenings to rule out developmental and language delays, and other conditions and refer you to specialists if needed. As your child becomes a preschooler and later enters school, your Pediatrician will accompany your child’s journey and address his/ her health issues and your concerns. Immunizations will be recommended according to the National Immunization Schedules. When your child has grown to be an adolescent, your Pediatrician will educate your child about pubertal changes to expect and help your child pass through this transitional phase of life easily. Tips for a healthy lifestyle will be discussed with your young adolescents.
A number of physical and mental health concerns in adults are caused due to improper management during childhood. Under the care of a good Pediatrician, your child can enter adulthood with reduced risk of developing major health issues.
In all the stages a Pediatrician will be treating not only the child but providing support for the concerned mother and the entire family. Hence it is important for the parents to be comfortable with the Pediatrician and be able to ask questions.
During the first few visits, you can try developing a good rapport with your Pediatrician. Once you feel comfortable enough, you should not hncerns. Your Pediatrician should be friendly, up to date with all developments, easily approachable and accessible. Your Pediatrician should encourage you asking questions about your child and should allocate time to discuss problems and concerns. Most importantly, your child should feel comfortable with your Pediatrician.
Other factors that you might have to consider before choosing your Pediatrician are the proximity of the clinic to your locality, child friendly staff and atmosphere in the clinic and the compatibility of your Health insurance with the clinic. Once the comfort levels are good between your Pediatrician and your child (you and your family), it is better not to change your Pediatrician unless it’s necessary.
In this `Google era’ – where the parents can easily access an extensive amount of information available online- it is the additional responsibility of a Pediatrician to eliminate the fears from the minds of parents and ensure that he/she is their only credible source of information regarding their child’s health. If you feel your child is pale it’s better to discuss it with your Pediatrician rather than surf online and self-diagnose your child with a serious illness.
The more comfortable and more secure you feel with your Pediatrician, the less will be your worries.
Good Luck! Happy Parenting!
Dr. Sudhashree Venkatraman
Aster Clinic, Karama (UMC)