April 29, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Paediatric health care is a speciality that focuses on working with children from new-borns to adolescents. Specialised children’s hospitals and health centres offer medical treatment and health services exclusively for children and like a regular hospital there are a variety of roles that health care workers play. Paediatric hospitals also have areas similar to regular hospitals such as oncology, intensive care, cardiology and asthma case management. Children’s hospitals are specifically designed and equipped to provide medical care to children. While adult hospitals may be scary and clinical to child patients, children’s hospitals are generally bright with themed décor, have areas to play and activities to do, as well as being staffed with professionals who are approachable, able to communicate with children and their families, and importantly fun.
Children can be new-borns, babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and adolescents. Each stage of development for children is different and requires medical staff that are trained in the specific complications and needs of children at each stage. Importantly, medical professionals working with children must also recognise the long-term effects of medical treatments and procedures on their patients.
If you are interested in working with children there are a number of medical care positions available including obstetrician, paediatrician, nurse, child psychologist or dentist.
Obstetricians are doctors who work with mothers and their babies during pregnancy and birth. Their focus is monitoring the baby’s development in the womb and the mother’s physical health during pregnancy and childbirth. Obstetrician’s can work in a team of health care professionals that include midwives and nurses. They can make home visits or work exclusively in a hospital or clinic.
A paediatrician is a doctor who specialises in child related illness, health issues, trauma and disease. Even through children are affected by the same illness or injury as adults, medical treatment affects them differently because they have different bodies. Paediatricians train for up to six years in the specific treatment of children and undergo a fellowship for up to three years. A simple procedure for adults could have critical implications for developing children and as a result doctors must be trained to specifically work with them. As an example, a regular cardiac surgeon operates on the fist-sized heart of an adult, while a paediatric cardiac surgeon uses different instruments and may regularly perform surgery on hearts the size of a walnut.
A paediatric nurse is a qualified nurse who works specifically with children. Nurses specialise in paediatric medicine, gaining additional knowledge and skills in areas such as paediatric rehabilitation and intensive care. Nurses working with children treat their patients differently to adults, recognising that children may not be able to communicate where it hurts or how they feel. Being friendly, fun and patient are important personality traits for paediatric nurses.
Child psychologists focus on diagnosing and treating the emotional and behavioural problems of children. Adult hospitals can be scary for children who often don’t understand what is happening to them and why. Child psychiatrists play an important role working with children and their families to address psychological issues that may or may not be related to other medical issues they are being treated for hospital. As medical doctors, psychiatrists are allowed to prescribe medications and can work in a team of other health care professionals.
Paediatric dentists care for children’s teeth as soon as their teeth start appearing. Treating children from a young age delivers proper dental care from a young age and helps prevent dental issues later in life. Treating a child is obviously different to treating adults, and paediatric dentists must be approachable, patient, kind and friendly. Paediatric dental surgeries are generally bright and inviting with lots of interesting and friendly décor that make children feel at ease.