Many Indian parents, particularly those from the rural and semi-urban areas, still consult a general practitioner for their children’s illness. I still remember our friendly neighbourhood ‘doctor uncle’ treating my little brother as well as my grandmother. Many families have a ‘family doctor’ who treats all the major ‘ailments’ of the household! But general practitioner’s approach to an ailment may not be suitable for a child. A friend of mine shares her experience: “We took our 9-month-old daughter, who had a severe cough, to a general practitioner. He prescribed antibiotics for her!” Situations like this underline the importance of consulting a specialist; in this case a paediatrician. A paediatrician would have treated the ailment in a way that’s more apt to the age and symptoms of the child.
A paediatrician is a doctor who specialises in treating the ailments of young children. He is also well versed in the overall management of the health of children. He can also advise you on aspects like the child’s growth and development milestones, any developmental delays, nutrition, and immunisation. Usually, paediatricians have an MBBS degree with a specialisation in paediatrics leading to an MD. A few of them obtain a DNB certification after MBBS. Both these degrees are valid qualifications for practising paediatrics in India.
Preferred qualities of a good paediatrician
- Young children are not easy to handle. Sick children, in particular, are the most difficult. At the same time, young parents are an anxious lot. When their child falls sick, they get worked up and are ridden with doubts. Some parents go overboard and suggest the treatments themselves—thanks to the ‘gyaan’ they’ve gained from the Internet or from their friends who have been through a similar situation. A paediatrician must be able to assure them gently and to make them understand the situation in hand. So, the primary quality a paediatrician must have is patience.
- A good doctor has a pleasant disposition and strikes a chord with the child immediately so that the child trusts her.
- Children cannot explain their problems clearly to the paediatrician. So, the doctor must have a vigilant eye for the symptoms. He should ask the right questions to the parents and to the child. He should be able to check the child without making her too uncomfortable.
- Modern lifestyle has given birth to many modern diseases. Particularly our little ones face the danger of various diseases that were not so prevalent when we were young. Diseases such as childhood obesity, stress, childhood diabetes are on the rise. A paediatrician should constantly update herself with the treatment methods for modern diseases.
- A paediatrician cannot treat all the diseases that a child can have. For example, if a child has a problem in the heart, then the paediatrician must refer the child to a paediatric cardiologist, who specialises in the management of heart problems in children.
- A paediatrician should be working with a speciality hospital, which has modern medical equipment and technology. This will help in quicker and better diagnosis and treatment.
Any doctor who had obtained a DNB or MD in paediatrics can become a paediatrician. But the qualities mentioned above define a great paediatrician.
Visits to a doctor may sometimes be inevitable. And, most children are terrified of the idea. So, how do you make these visits less scary for your child? Read the following article to find out.