TODAY the calls on your time and skills are probably greater than they have ever been before. As a physician you are throughout your career a teacher as well. The very word "doctor" means "teacher" and no other professional person is better equipped than you to give families 1) an understanding of the child's illnesses, 2) health supervision and guidance, 3) family life counseling and 4) preventive medical care and advice about accident prevention.
This comes to mind with special pertinence at this time because the 1961 National Health Forum sponsored by the National Health Council, of which the Academy is a member, is on the subject of "Health and Communication". It is being held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, March 13 through 16, 1961. Here members of the health professions will discuss and exchange ideas on effective communication with the public and with particular professional groups. The President, the President-elect, and the Executive Director are the Academy's delegates to the National Health Council. As this is being written, one can only speculate on the outcome of such a conference. But it is safe to conclude that no individual is more influential as a health communicator than the physician, and our own specialty has a foremost position in health education.
It is timely to consider this whole matter of the physician as health educator. Actually this is at the core of the much talked about "physician-patient relationship," and every pediatrician knows that good communication is essential in his relations with parents and little patients. It is also worth thinking about this aspect of medical skill because your role as a teacher and a preventer of illness probably takes more of your time than even you realize. As far back as 1947, at the time of the Academy's study of child health services, pediatricians on the average were devoting about half of their time to health supervision.
- Copyright © 1961 by the American Academy of Pediatrics