How to Become a Pediatrician in Nigeria
A pediatrician is a medical doctor. However, beyond just being a medical doctor, a pediatrician is a medical doctor that has gone through a series of training that enables them to be able to provide medical care for babies and toddlers effectively.
It is a pediatrician’s duty to take care of the emotional and social needs of babies until they are old enough to be treated by regular doctors.
Since pediatricians are specialists that deal with children, if you plan to become a pediatrician in Nigeria, you must have a genuine interest in children. If you are not willing to deal with children and sing them lullabies, you might not be ready to become a pediatrician in Nigeria.
In as much as the job of a pediatrician in Nigeria is not about singing babies’ lullabies, dealing with children requires one to be ready to sing.
So, you just might have to get comfortable with singing for children. If you fail to do this, you might not be an effective pediatrician.
Beyond simply getting comfortable with children, a pediatrician is most likely to get attached to a patient. The reason for this is you might be in charge of a particular kid’s healthcare from the time they were born up to the moment they do not need a pediatrician anymore.
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What is the Role of a Pediatrician?
In as much as you probably know that a pediatrician is basically trained to treat kids, it is important that you know the exact role you will be playing in the life of different children when you become a pediatrician.
That being said, below are some of the things pediatricians in Nigeria have to do for children.
General Treatment: This is quite obvious and is a role you perhaps already know you will fill when you become a pediatrician in Nigeria.
As a pediatrician in Nigeria, you will work with children in maintaining their general health. This has nothing to do with dealing with a complex health situation. So, a child does not need to have a health situation regarded as complex before you give them your attention.
When treating children, all you might have to do is deal with simple infections and fever. This seemingly simple routine will include the interpretation of test results, as well as the recommendation of medical tests.
You will Have to Manage Chronic Ailments: As a pediatrician, you might not necessarily be in a position to treat all types of ailments in children. Well, regardless of what the ailment is like, you will need to be aware of how your patient is doing. This implies that you will be dealing with chronic sicknesses. This role might simply be about checking up on them to see how they are responding to treatment. It also includes looking out for them to make sure they are using their medication in the right way.
The process of checking on the kids in your care also involves giving them progress reports about how they are doing.
Keeping a Record of a Child’s Medical History: Everyone has a medical history. While lots of people might not be aware of what their medical history is, a pediatrician is expected to keep a detailed record of a child’s medical history from the time they are born to when they become adolescents.
When this is done, it becomes easy to spot any deviation from the standard state of health before things get out of hand. To ensure you have the right medical history of a patient, you must always have a note for writing down important facts each time you meet with your patient.
Keep the Communication Line with Parents of your Patients Open: It is your duty to ensure that there is ample and clear communication between you and the parents of your patients. With your patient’s parents, you will need to communicate verbally. However, you might not always communicate verbally with your patients as babies do not talk. Regardless of the fact that babies are unable to talk, you must understand what babies are saying even when they do not express themselves verbally.
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What are the Skills Required to be a pediatrician?
Every medical doctor in Nigeria that is looking to specialize as a pediatrician is expected to have some skills before considering pediatrics as an area of specialty. These skills might be inborn or learned.
Some of them are;
The Ability to Multitask: If you are considering becoming a pediatrician in Nigeria, you will need to be able to multitask effortlessly. This is important as you will spend the day treating children in different age groups. This might seem like it is nothing special. However, it can be really difficult as your ability to focus on what you have at hand at a point in time will be tested.
You Must Understand How Children Think: Children do not think like adults. They could say one thing and mean another. Going by this, you might have to devise a means of getting into their heads if you always want to get things right each time you have to attend to a child.
Steps in Becoming a Pediatrician in Nigeria
Let’s look at the steps necessary to becoming a pediatrician in Nigeria.
You Must have a degree in Medicine and Surgery: It is impossible to become a pediatrician in Nigeria if you are not first a medical doctor. The implication of this is everyone looking to become a pediatrician in Nigeria will need to first study medicine and surgery in the university. After your degree in medicine and surgery, you can then think about specializing in pediatrics.
Go for NYSC: After spending time in a university in Nigeria, every Nigerian is expected to give the country one year of service. This could be done in any field. However, for people that studied medicine and surgery in the university, the time spent in NYSC has to be spent offering medical services in a hospital.
Residency: Although this is just one of the many steps in becoming a pediatrician in Nigeria, it can easily be said to be the most important step.
To become a pediatrician in Nigeria, you will need to locate a teaching hospital in any part of the country that has room for resident doctors looking to specialize in pediatrics. Once you get this done, you will go ahead to rake part in the ‘primary’. This exam is put together by the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NNMCN). It takes place two times every year. So, if you miss the first one for the year, you can always try out the second. That’s not all. If you fail at your first attempt, you still have the opportunity to retake the exam the same year. Beyond just preparing for this exam in the right way, you will have to pay an exam fee of N40,000 to NPMCN.
Are There Specialties in Pediatrics?
When one becomes a pediatrician in Nigeria, such a person is already considered a specialist. However, there is more room for specializing as a pediatrician.
So, beyond just becoming a pediatrician, you can still specialize in other areas of pediatrics.
Some areas in pediatrics in which one can specialize are;
Clinical Care Pediatrics: This is an aspect of pediatrics that involves taking care of children in very unstable situations. This set of specialists work in special care baby units; a branch of the intensive care unit. Pediatricians in this area are known as pediatric intensivists.
Adolescent Medicine specialists: These sets of people are not trained to take care of babies. They are more concerned with caring for people that range from 11 to 21 years old.
Developmental Behavior Pediatrics: This is an area in pediatrics that involves evaluating the behavioral development of children.
Pediatric Oncologists: This set of people are concerned with treating children down with cancer. In as much as they can also treat adults with similar issues, they are just focused on caring for children.
Child Abuse Pediatricians: A child abuse pediatrician was trained to evaluate children and find out if they have been neglected or abused.
Pediatric Cardiologists: A pediatric cardiologist is responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions in children. This set of specialists do not work alone. They work hand in hand with pediatric heart surgeons.
Pediatric Hematologists: They are known to treat diseases that are blood-related. They pay a lot of attention to children born with sickle cell anemia.
Pediatric Endocrinology: This is a field in pediatrics that is concerned with the endocrine system. Pediatric endocrinologists treat various ailments in children so long these ailments have something to do with the endocrine system.
Pediatric Gastroenterology: This involves taking care of the digestive system of young people.
Other branches of pediatrics are pediatric cardiology, pediatric pulmonology, pediatric rheumatology, pediatrics nephrology, pediatric neurology, and neonatal-perinatal pediatrics.
How Much do Pediatricians Earn in Nigeria?
Pediatricians in Nigeria earn decent salaries just like other medical consultants. These salaries, however, are dependent on their level.
As a junior resident doctor, a pediatrician will earn between 300,000 to 450,000. This increases from 450,000 to 550,000 every month when one becomes a senior resident doctor. Consultant pediatricians earn about 800,000 to 1million naira every month.