Pediatrics, or children's medicine, is a branch of internal medicine dealing with the health care of infants, children and adolescents. The upper age limit for patients varies in different countries and ranges from 14 to 21 years. In the Czech Republic, this limit is the day before the 19th birthday (in justified cases, the age can be even higher).
A general practitioner who deals with this field is also called a pediatrician.
The word pediatrics (and words derived from it) comes from the Greek παῖς (pais child) and ιατρός (iatros doctor), so it means pediatrician.
Pediatrics in general
Differences between treating children and adults
The treatment of children and adults differs in many ways. Differences in human body size also correspond to differences and changes during adolescence. The smaller body of infants or newborns is physiologically significantly different from the body of an adult. Pediatricians need to be more aware of congenital and developmental defects or genetic differences.
Also, many hereditary diseases are much more often treated by pediatricians than by doctors for adults, because until recently most of those with such diseases did not live to adulthood at all. The best-known examples include sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis or thalassemia. Infectious diseases and immunization are once again mainly dealt with by pediatricians.
Childhood is the period of the most significant growth, development and maturation of all organs of the human body. Recognizing the normal differences from the pathological takes years of training and practice beyond the normal medical education.
Treating a child is not the same as treating a shrunken adult. The main difference between the treatment of children and adults is that children, in most legal systems, cannot make decisions for themselves. The pediatrician must always consider the issue of guardianship, right to privacy, legal liability and informed consent. In other words, the pediatrician has to deal more often with the parents (and sometimes the whole family) than just with the child. The legal category itself consists of juveniles who, under certain conditions, have the right to make their own decisions about the health care provided to them. However, this law is often subject to change and varies from state to state.
Education of pediatricians
Pediatric education is different in all parts of the world. In general, like all other general practitioners, pediatricians first complete a three-level study cycle at the medical school of the relevant university and then receive a medical degree.
It depends on the university and the relevant legal standard whether or not a previous university education is required for admission to the medical field. The second way is more common in Commonwealth countries. The study itself lasts five to six years. But in the USA, for example, applicants for a master's degree, which then lasts four to five years, must already have a degree from a previous three- to four-year degree (usually, although it is not a rule, from some science field). A medical graduate receives a degree, the form of which varies according to the state and university from which it was obtained. This title entitles him to practice medicine.
Pediatricians must then continue their education in their field. Depending on the relevant regulations or degree of specialization, it usually takes between three and six years (sometimes, of course, more). For general practitioners whose work consists of primary care, this study is usually shorter than for hospital specialists.
In most countries, the first cycle of study is usually common to all medical professions. But there are also universities where pediatricians profile themselves even before the end of the first cycle of study. In some countries, after completing this first cycle, future paediatricians immediately start studying the field of paediatrics, in others m