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No minor care

If there is one branch of medicine that requires more skill than most others, it is paediatrics. A paediatrician can be a doctor of medicine or a surgeon, treating children up to the age of 18.

education Updated: Feb 12, 2013 16:39 IST

The lowdown

If there is one branch of medicine that requires more skill than most others, it is paediatrics. A paediatrician can be a doctor of medicine or a surgeon, treating children up to the age of 18. The ideal paediatrician understands children and loves them, is a keen observer, dedicated, and listens to parents with patience. S/he is playful with children, full of humour, and treats them with empathy. Paediatric surgery is a super-specialisation which needs extraordinary skill, as patients can be as young as newborns with tiny organs that can only be operated on with equally small surgical instruments. A paediatrician needs to work on young patients’ minds as well — winning their trust, getting them to understand that they are unwell and need to follow the doctor’s advice, encouraging them to talk. A qualified doctor can work in a state or private hospital for a few years before setting up independent practice, which is fairly easy to establish. Most multi-speciality hospitals these days have a paediatrics department, thus paediatricians are in great demand.

A typical day for a middle/senior level pediatrician could be as follows:
9am: Reach hospital/ private clinic
9.30am: Start seeing children in outpatients department or clinic
12.30pm: Lunch
1pm: See patients admitted to hospital or those coming to the clinic
4pm: Spend an hour going through latest research in medical journals
5pm: Do some tele-consultation
6pm: Take some emergency calls/go on visits
8pm: Leave for the day

The payoff
In the government sector, a person can earn about Rs. 50,000 per month at beginner’s level; Rs. 60,000 at middle-level and Rs. 1 lakh at senior level. In the private sector, the corresponding packages are Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 40,000; Rs. 60,000 to Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh. In private practice, a doctor’s earning depends on his reputation

* Love children and understand their behaviour
* Good listening skills and keen observation
* A playful manner around children
* A big reserve of patience

Getting there
Take science with biology in Class 12. After finishing school, take the written entrance test (state- or institute-specific) to enrol for MBBS at a medical college that is well-known for paediatrics. These are usually centres of excellence in other fields as well. Certain medical colleges overseas are considered good if someone were to practise abroad. Becoming a paediatric surgeon means three years of extra training after becoming a general surgeon. This amounts to six years’ study after MBBS

Institutes and URLs
* Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh
* All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
* Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi
* Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi
* Christian Medical College, Vellore
* Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children, Chennai of Child Health and Hospital for Children.html
* Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Pondicherry
* School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia

Pros and cons
* Fairly good pay from the start; easy to establish practice
* Satisfying job if you like children
* Greater than usual risks if the patients are very young
* Parents may panic often

Choosing a career in paediatrics gives a unique opportunity to a paediatrician to build the future of the nation by taking care of children -- CP Bansal, president of -- Indian Academy of Pediatrics, Mumbai