TWO MAJOR facets of the pediatrician's role in practice have been presented in previous messages: as a child's specialist and as family medical advisor and counsellor. The bases of these observations, previously detailed, are the author's experiences in practice and the reported experiences of a panel of 20 of his peers from various parts of this country.
A third characteristic of the pediatrician, less frequently recognized but all-pervasive, is that of teacher. The image immediately evoked by this term is of university connection, of medical school faculty. Indeed, pediatricians are justifiably proud of the rapid rise in status of pediatric teaching from a part-time or subsidiary position in most faculties 40 years ago to the present full-time status co-equal with surgery, medicine, and obstetrics. We are further gratified by the increasingly large corps of expert pediatric teachers throughout the country. Despite the fears sometimes expressed that the sudden outpouring of funds for research—long overdue—may shift the medical school emphasis away from the primary function of instruction, the probabilities are that a balance will be struck between teaching and research. Effective pediatric instruction will be likely to continue in the medical school and residency setting.
My thought, however, is of the teaching which the practitioner of pediatrics does, which extends pediatric thought to a widening circle. The attitude of instruction is inherent in all physicians, recognized from the earliest days of medicine and reflected in the Oath of Hippocrates. The pediatrician has an extra missionary zeal because he deals with the young impressionable individual and the developing family, wherein he seeks to establish attitudes and practices which will benefit the child.
- Copyright © 1963 by the American Academy of Pediatrics