February 2002
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Taking Care of Children
By: Jennifer Kelly, Roncalli Central High, Port Saunders, NF

Pediatricians are physicians who specialize in the care and treatment of infants, children, adolescents and young adults, birth to age 21. They are expert in all areas of a child's physical and emotional growth and development. Pediatricians are also responsible for teaching parents about the health and needs of their child.

There are so many areas of pediatrics. There's more to it than just examining a child and diagnosing the problem. A pediatrician tracks each child's growth and development and takes action if problems arise. They treat common childhood illnesses and injuries, such as ear infections and chicken pox. They examine and diagnose patients using medical equipment, instruments, and tests. Pediatricians prescribe and administer drugs and treatments. They provide ongoing treatment and monitoring for those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease, or cardiac conditions.

Pediatricians immunize children to protect them from preventable, communicable diseases, such as chicken pox and hepatitis. They care for children with complex medical problems alone or in consultation with pediatric medical sub-specialists or surgical specialists.

Most pediatricians work in private offices, hospitals, and clinics. They may work alone or with other physicians and are usually aided by nurses, technicians, and clerks. They are also involved in teaching and research in academic centers and in the guidance of community health care in national, provincial, and local governments and agencies.

Pediatricians require a lot of skills and because of this, a large salary is earned. The average salary range is from $100,000 to $150,000, depending on where in Canada you are located. To become a Pediatrician you should try and take the most challenging high school courses available in sciences, math, and English. After the completion of high school, students should enroll in University to study for a Bachelor's Degree. A Bachelor's Degree is required to attend any medical school. You can major in whatever background you would like, but the best Degree for medical school is a science degree. Before entrance is granted to a medical school, students must pass a national examination, called a MCAT, and must undergo several interviews. After completion of medical school, students enter several years of post-graduate training periods (internship and residency). By doing this they will receive specialized training and practice in the field of pediatrics. Those who wish to specialize further may choose to take up to three more years of training in a field, such as pediatric cardiology.

As you can see, Pediatrics is a very demanding job. It takes years of study and determination. But the rewards are endless. Imagine the feeling of knowing that you saved a child's life. Of course, there are bound to be rough times, you just have to stick with it. Like any job, you have to love what you do in order to fully enjoy it. For anyone with an interest in children and medicine, this is a great career choice.