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Personality Characteristics to Become a Pediatrician

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It typically takes a certain type of personality and a roughly ten-year commitment to school and residency to succeed in a career as a pediatrician, where you treat the health of children. Pediatricians do enjoy a number of job advantages, including an average annual salary of $168,650 as of May 2011.

Excellent Communicator

Pediatricians rely on strong communication skills to deliver direct, and sometimes tough messages. When working with young patients, they need to get attention, look the child in the eyes and attempt to find out what is wrong with him. They also need to present hard messages for parents to hear at times, including that a child needs surgery, has a chronic or life-threatening illness or disease or has a major mental or physical disability. Pediatricians may also have interns in their offices or residents in a hospital setting and direct and assertive teaching and training skills are often necessary. They also commonly collaborate with other medical doctors and communicate with pharmacies regarding patient care.


A February 2012 study by Johns Hopkins Children’s Center found that Latina mothers in the U.S. were more concerned that their child's pediatrician be genuine and warm than able to speak Spanish and offer a convenient experience. The study's findings were largely in line with other non-cultural studies that showed parents in general want warm and caring pediatricians. The intent of the study was to find out if this trait superseded any culture or language preferences. In essence, parents feel most comfortable with a pediatrician who cares about their child.


The other major quality highlighted in the Johns Hopkins study was empathy. The mothers surveyed wanted a pediatrician who could relate to their situations and had a true desire to understand their child's illness or condition and help. While technical competence is vital to providing quality diagnosis and treatment, parents typically feel like the quality of their kids' health experience is positive impacted by a doctor who understands where they are coming from. While having kids helps with empathy for a pediatrician, it is more critical that they have a willingness to learn about the feelings and concerns of children, even those they can't verbalize, as well as those of parents.


An underlying trait of effective pediatricians is a positive attitude. Parents often have concerns, doubts and fears when seeking medical care for their kids. An optimistic attitude from a pediatrician, even in serious health situations, can provide the hope a parent needs to feel calm and support their children. Pediatricians also need strong emotional intelligence and a natural ability to remain cool under pressure. Kids can get unruly, cry, scream and throw fits about being at the doctor. Parents can be pushy, demanding and critical. A positive attitude from a pediatrician helps offset some of the tension that can arise, keeping the doctor sane and able to make sound decisions about care.


Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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