WE HAVE previously looked at the pediatrician in the roles of the child's specialist, the family's medical advisor, and teacher (see the President's Message, Pediatrics, January, March, May, 1963). There is but one further, and inevitable, step in his service on behalf of the child, that of citizen. For when he becomes physician for the child, he becomes advocate for the child personally, with the family, in office and hospital, and among medical personnel, and, finally, within the community, the state, the nation.
This role is especially important in a free society, under a democratic or representative form of government, where progress is made by education and persuasion rather than by fiat. If it seems that pressure groups often prevail, then the pediatrician at times must engender or join a pressure group on behalf of children. He quickly finds allies, for the welfare of children engages the interest of many.
To some readers this series may seem nostalgic, biographic, or autobiographic, since references are often made to experiences of the author or the panel of pediatricians whose submitted ideas have been incorporated; to others it may seem to present the "glamor" of pediatrics. If so, the author pleads intentional guilt, but guilt on a factual basis. For this is pediatrics of the past third-century as 20 other pediatricians and I have seen and lived it; our experiences, from coast to coast, are not unique. And pediatrics—beyond the long hours and the hard work and the occasional heartache—does participate in the glamor of childhood, the wonder of growth and maturing.
- Copyright © 1963 by the American Academy of Pediatrics