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What is a Pediatric Endocrinologist?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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A pediatric endocrinologist is a pediatrician, trained specifically in caring for children. These doctors are also endocrinologists, which is a specialty that is most concerned with the endocrine system. It includes things like the thyroid gland, the pituitary gland, and the pancreas, just to name a few. When these two studies are put together, the pediatric endocrinologist becomes a doctor who treats children who have disorders of the endocrine system.

The training for this doctor is rigorous. Pediatrics is already a specialty practice, and pediatric endocrinology is a subspecialty. When doctors finish medical school, they must study pediatrics in residence for 3 years. They will need to study endocrinology for 3 more years. This means ten years of education after a person gets a bachelor’s degree, or a total of 14 years training after high school to become a pediatric endocrinologist.

There are many different reasons why children could need to see a pediatric endocrinologist. Most kids with Type I Diabetes are under the care of these specialists. Pediatric endocrinologists may also treat children who have faulty thyroid function or other conditions that could affect growth and development. Dysfunction of sexual hormones that leads to early or late puberty or failure of puberty to occur is another area of interest for these doctors. Such doctors may also see patients with short stature, ambiguous genitalia, or with Vitamin D deficiency.

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Many times the work of the pediatric endocrinologist is to determine what hormones or other elements are missing from the body or present in too great of a supply. Ways to address these deficits or oversupply can be variable. Once things like blood testing determine imbalances, doctors may prescribe medications to address the issue. Sometimes, they also prescribe other treatments like surgery. For instance removal of overlarge thyroid glands could help adequately address hyperthyroidism. The endocrinologist would then help the patient by finding the right supplementation of thyroid hormone to take for life, after surgery.

The pediatric endocrinologist typically does not perform surgery, though they may choose to be present during surgeries on their patients, when needed. Mostly this specialty will work out of offices either in conjunction with a larger hospital or they can work privately. These doctors aren’t available in great numbers, people may need a referral to see one, and they might have to travel to get a city where one works. Most often, these doctors will work in association with larger hospitals in urban areas. With this specialty mastered, some doctors could decide to take jobs in education or research and may not see patients.

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