Exploring the Work Environment for a Pediatrician
Pediatricians provide medical care to children in all kinds of different settings and environments. They might work in huge, modern hospitals or in third-world, impoverished areas. They may also work any number of hours depending upon their specialties and their individual positions.
The Workplace in General
For the most part, almost all pediatricians work indoors in comfortable, climate-controlled environments. As many as 29% of all pediatricians in the United States work in inner city hospitals or clinics, 10% work in rural environments, and the vast majority, up to 40%, work in suburban areas across the country. Very few of them work in third-world countries to provide services to underprivileged children in some parts of South America and Africa, and many who do work on a volunteer basis for up to a year or more at a time.
In the Office
Pediatricians almost always work in an office environment, either in their own small clinical practice, in a group practice with other doctors within a clinic, or even in an outpatient setting in a hospital. The environment is usually a comfortable one, though the patient and responsibility load varies based upon factors such as the number of physicians in the practice and the area in which they work. Physicians who share a practice usually also share administrative staff, though nurses may be individually assigned.
In the Hospital
Some pediatricians work in hospitals, though very few of these are actually employed in hospitals for the purpose of seeing patients. Rather, these individuals work in teaching hospitals and help to bring up the next generation of pediatricians. Those who are actually employed for the purpose of seeing patients are subspecialists who work in cardiology, emergency medicine, and even rheumatology. Some travel between locations and may have offices in as many as three regional hospitals.
Hours and Social Environment
The hours that a pediatrician works are often long and tedious, and this is especially true when it is considered that many are on call around the clock for the purpose of attending births and checking the well-being of newborns. Some subspecialists, however, may work typical nine-to-five hours with no nights, weekends, or holidays. Socially, pediatricians do not work alone. Much of their days are spent talking with patients and their caregivers or working hand-in-hand with other healthcare providers.
Because these individuals are often exposed to infectious diseases, pediatricians must always take precautions. Hospitals and clinics can be breeding grounds for things like the flu, and this means that pediatricians must wash their hands frequently and stay up-to-date with immunizations and health checks to ensure that they are healthy. In most cases, though, hospitals and clinics have procedures in place to prevent the spread of contagious viruses and bacteria.
Overall, the work environment you can expect as a pediatrician depends upon your location, your employer, and even the subspecialty you choose, if any. Finally, it is important to consider that you will be expected to work with computers and proprietary software, but you should receive the training you need during your education and from your employer.