11 Paediatrician Responsibilities For Career Success

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 February 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Becoming a doctor can give you the opportunity to build a rewarding career and pursue a speciality, like gerontology, obstetrics, or paediatrics, which is the medical branch concerned with the treatment of babies, children and young adults. Doctors who specialise in paediatrics are called paediatricians, and they can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, speciality clinics and general medical practises. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a paediatrician, learning what these medical professionals do in their daily work can help you decide whether this career path suits your skills and goals.

In this article, we describe 11 common paediatrician responsibilities to help you learn about this career path.

11 Paediatrician Responsibilities

Paediatrician responsibilities might depend on the medical setting where they work or on their other specialities, like paediatric oncology, which is the study of childhood cancers. While these professionals' duties might vary slightly, they usually include the same basic tasks. Here are some common duties for these health care professionals:

1. Examining patients

These physicians perform physical examinations on their patients, who are typically children or young adults. They might listen to patients' heartbeat and breathing, measure their pulse and palpate their stomachs or other areas to detect areas of pain. The type of examination they do usually depends on the reason for the patient's visit. For example, a doctor might perform different tests for a routine examination than they might for a child who is complaining of stomach pain. After completing their examination, the physician might order tests of bodily fluids to identify certain illnesses.

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2. Interpreting test results

While some test results take a few minutes to come back, others may take days or months. If the results take a long time to process, the doctor might ask the patients' guardians to make a follow-up appointment. These professionals use the skills they have developed through formal education and experience to detect abnormalities in blood and other fluid tests. The results can help them diagnose illnesses or identify areas where the child might develop deficiencies. In some facilities, the doctor might consult other experts on their team to help them interpret complicated test results.

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3. Diagnosing illnesses and injuries

Using test results, their observations from physical examinations and information from the patient and their guardians, the doctor might diagnose the patient with an illness or injury. Depending on the condition, the physician might offer a definite diagnosis or suggest that the patient has a certain illness and recommend they visit a specialist. If the physician is a specialist, they might use the test results and notes from the patient's primary physician to make a diagnosis. For example, a children's doctor who specialises in gastrointestinal disorders might use a patients' file and their observations to diagnose a stomach condition.

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4. Providing treatment

Some types of children's doctors perform surgeries and other procedures to help patients with illnesses and injuries. While primary care physicians typically refer patients to specialists, emergency children's doctors and surgeons who specialise in treating young patients might set bones or perform operations. Often, medical students who pursue a career in children's medicine choose a pathway during their education, which determines what types of medicine they practise and what facilities they manage. If you are interested in administering treatment or performing operations, consider choosing a specialised field during your education.

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5. Prescribing medication

Primary care doctors, specialists and emergency doctors all prescribe medication for young patients. Their experience prescribing medication for children can help them choose the right combination of medicines to help their young patients and minimise side effects. During their consultation with the child's parents or guardians, the physician might offer the family several medication options for chronic conditions. Since patients might need an adjustment to their medication after starting a treatment regimen, the doctor might check on their patients after several days. In larger clinics, the doctor might ask a nurse or administrator to contact the child's parents.

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6. Referring patients to specialists

Primary care doctors may not have the ability to treat or diagnose complicated medical issues for young patients. In those cases, they may refer the patient to a speciality doctor. Typically, this happens after the doctor conducts an initial medical examination and interprets test results. Speciality doctors might focus on a particular area of medicine, like gastroenterology, orthopaedics or psychiatry. To make the referral, the doctor might contact the specialist's office directly. Usually, the doctor's office administrator sends the patients' medical information and test results to the specialist to prepare them for the patient's visit.

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7. Writing notes about patients

To help nurses, technicians and specialists, these professionals take detailed notes about their patients' symptoms, test results and treatment. Often, they begin their notes by summarising what their patients and their patients' guardians tell them about their symptoms. Then, they might write a report of their observations during a physical examination. If they make a tentative or final diagnosis, they usually include that information in their patients' notes. While they might initially make their notes on paper forms, which they store in a special folder for each patient, they may also enter the notes into a patient service programme.

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8. Educating parents and guardians

Primary care physicians, specialists and emergency doctors who treat children might use their communication skills to teach patients' guardians how to manage their children's symptoms. They might share the causes of a certain illness or injury, explain how and when to take prescribed medication and provide a list of activities or foods to avoid during treatment. When a child has a chronic condition, like asthma or allergies, the doctor might teach them how to avoid triggering their symptoms and what to do when they have an episode. This advice can help the patient avoid hospitalisation for serious episodes.

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9. Conducting and presenting research

Many physicians are also researchers who write papers about new treatment methods for patients. Doctors who treat children might engage in research on paediatric medicine to improve outcomes for young patients. Physicians who have specialised skills or lots of experience treating certain childhood ailments might focus on these areas for their research, becoming leaders in their field. Once they complete their research trials, they might write reports or scholarly papers summarising their findings. If their research becomes famous in their field, they might receive an invitation to present their findings at a scholarly conference.

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10. Managing an office

While some of these professionals work for large hospitals or clinics, which usually have an administrative manager and other staff, some physicians operate their own paediatric medical office. If they own their own practise and do not employ a manager, they might perform administrative management tasks to keep the practise running smoothly. They might run payroll, invoice patients' guardians for services, contact insurance companies, order new medical supplies and supervise support staff. Some doctors might perform these tasks when their practise is new. Once the practise grows, they might hire an office manager to take over their administrative duties.

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11. Hiring support staff

In some paediatric practises, the doctor takes part in the hiring process for new staff members. While the practise might have a dedicated recruiter or hiring manager, it can be helpful to include doctors in the interview process for strong candidates. Getting the doctors' opinions of potential nurses, technicians and administrators ensures that the practise hires candidates who might work effectively with the doctor. When doctors and support staff collaborate smoothly in their daily work, their good rapport can ensure better outcomes for patients. The doctor might attend final interviews for candidates who have already passed an initial screening.

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