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National Pediatrician Day Celebrates Our Children’s Guardians

Julio César Velásquez Mejía

On Jan. 28, 1958, a patent for what would later become LEGOs was filed, a toy loved by millions of kids worldwide. Jan. 28 is also National Pediatrician Day in America (coincidence?), where we celebrate the doctors responsible for treating millions of kids and adolescents yearly. 

To clarify, a pediatrician is “a doctor who focuses on the health of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults (under the age of 21).” Pediatrics traces back centuries. The word is derived from the Latinized form of Greek, pedo, meaning child, and iatric, meaning healing

Obviously, the medical care of the young has been in practice for a long time; however, the modern field of pediatrics was actually created in the U.S. during the 1930s. In ancient Greece, the famous Hippocrates, who created the (drumroll please) Hippocratic Oath, wrote about healing children, but a specialized study for treating them wasn’t established for hundreds of years. 

After the middle ages, Paris, France, was the birthplace of Hôpital des Enfants Malades (the Hospital for Sick Children) in 1802, the first hospital dedicated exclusively to the care of young people. Dr. Abraham Jacobi, widely considered the father of American pediatrics, made a few societies specializing in child health after moving to the U.S. in 1853. 

Finally, in 1930, caring for children was established as an official field of medicine with the creations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Pediatrics Society

Photo Courtesy Ginny

From 1934–2019 there were a total of 125,332 pediatric certificates awarded in the U.S., which averages out to 1,474 every year. There’s a good reason it’s such a small number: becoming a doctor is hard! 

After graduating from high school, individuals who want to become pediatricians must have 11 years of post-high school education.

This period includes four years at undergraduate college, four years of medical school, a one-year internship, and a two-year residency. Oh, and they have to pass the official board certification, too. All of the immense time and effort required to achieve their goal is then directed toward the care of children and young adults.

Photo Courtesy Robina Weermeijer

So, what are some ways to celebrate and thank pediatricians? First and foremost, a simple thank you would probably mean a lot if you have friends or family who practice the profession. After all, the chances you have asked a few medical questions during off-hours are pretty high. 

If you have children, creating a thank you note for their doctor is a fun group activity. If verbal gratitude or thank you cards don’t suffice, check out the American Academy of Pediatrics’ philanthropy page to see how you can get involved. You can make monetary donations, honor a loved one, and set up a donor-advised fund. 

Pediatricians practice preventative care, meaning they must predict and prevent future illnesses and health problems and treat more immediate issues. One thing they won’t predict? A note of appreciation from their patients. If you have the means, celebrate a doctor on Jan. 28 or any other day — it’s the least we can do! 

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