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Pediatricians in France

Those who don’t have that vocation, have the freedom to shift and navigate freely in their profession. So what’s stopping them you may ask? The answer lies in education. In order to become a surgeon, you need to become very specialized, undergo extensive education and practice which means a lot of sacrifices and time. Some students can’t even afford that education despite of France’s medical faculties being not only very good but accessible. These obstacles may explain (along with vocation) why there are just 1,000 pediatricians. One could argue that it it might be dangerous to have such a low doctor density for the youngest demographic which is why many sectors especially retired physicians are creating petitions to raise incentives for aspiring pediatricians. So far the efforts have moved gradually but it could be a good route to have academia offer scholarships to pediatricians, to have lawmakers raise the base salary and to speak more to students during orientation to help them choose wisely. The problem when so many flock to a very high paying field is that it becomes saturated (there is a thing as too many surgeons because of the finite size of the French population), then again, by virtue of supply and demand, one could speculate that such a big stream of supply will naturally bring down health care costs for those seeking surgeries and make it less appealing to aspiring surgeons.

Another thing to consider is that, on average, surgeons are the best minds in the field of medicine so not only are there economic challenges in pursuing a career as surgeons, but also the inherent competitiveness among them. It could lead to a dissatisfying existence if your credentials are not as flashy as that of your peers besides, if the niche is as crowded as one can imagine, wouldn’t it make more sense to jump into less competitive fields? You might earn more due to bulk workload. The alternative to this is of course emigrating from France and into another E.U member state and attempt to practice in less competitive markets, the problem is, income is not as high in other markets as it is in France. As one thinker once put it ‘’life is a game of tradeoffs’’. The highest paying health care market is Denmark (so you would have to learn Danish, and then Switzerland, where you could speak French but where the cost of living is significantly higher than that of France).

Every time one discusses health care ( centre appel urgence dentiste geoallo ), the economics of it tend to be uncomfortable since lives are being discussed and placed right next to a dollar sign. This of course is not morally adequate but it is necessary to address in order to fix the market and bridge the gap of doctor density. The good news is that not only France has this problem but almost every equivalent country in the E.U, therefore, doctors’ associations, unions, hospitals, policymakers and insurance companies could very well foster a comprehensive dialogue about finding a fix that could help the region. Doctor density in and of itself is no prerequisite to optimum care or quality of life necessarily, for example, Cuba has almost twice as many doctors per 100,000 people but lack severely in other social aspects but more importantly, economic opportunities so, it is a problem but it could best be described as a bad symptom, not necessarily a terminal disease for what’s already the best health care system in the world (France). Having said that, in case you are interested in becoming a pediatrician, here is a list of the core responsibilities:

  • Monitor the health of newborns

  • Evaluate physical progress

  • Detect behavior, and mental health issues

  • Diagnose and treat childhood illnesses

The list sounds simple, and one could argue it is, but bear in mind children become ill far more often than adults because of weaker immune systems. That is why preventive care is so important, which involves regular check-ups that should be sought actively by the parents. As stated before, France expects 2 babies per couple so family planning is really important (it is not very common to see just one parent working and the other staying at home). Latin American cultures do have that tendency, of having one of the parents, usually the mother stay at home and perform domestic chores while taking care of the babies. In France, even if both parents work, there are free daycare facilities (usually up to 2 ½ years of age) and very few of them request any form of payment however they could request a fee depending on the services rendered or the expectations of the parent.

To those who may be foreign to the realities of the health care world outside of France’s borders, it could be argued that it is a medical paradise because of how well organized their centers are, how well trained their medical personnel is, how well managed their pharmacies are and how inclusive, comprehensive and universal the benefits are for the consumers. Regions like Latin America have (without exaggeration) hospitals with rats and roaches, pharmacy shelves severely understock, day care services costing as much as a private school and where pediatric services cover mainly diagnosis and a basic battery of medications (compounded by long waiting times, rescheduling of appointments, understaffing and many other issues). The problems are not as severe in countries like Canada or the United States but the health care issues of the latter have been very well documented particularly regarding their inability to create really universal care, omit preexisting conditions, lower insurance premiums and enhance benefits. In some cases, patients don’t even use their health insurance because of fear of paying higher premiums (again, not exaggerating). Day care in other countries is also not as good as in France, for instance, there are mainly wide areas where children can crawl around freely, play with a few toys or color a book (again, not for free) whereas in France, which happens to be mostly free, children are actually engaging in educational activities at an age in which they are like sponges, which means they absorb everything around them from words, images, shapes and much else. That is why quality day care is important and one could argue it directly relates to pediatric services because if children enjoy a good nutrition, engage in regular activity and stay active, chances of becoming sick will decrease.

This does not mean they’re immune, not by any stretch of the imagination, and therefore it is important to take your child to have periodic checkups especially during the first 1-3 years of life. Many babies have been diagnosed at that young and tender age, with diseases like cancer, non Hodgskin lymphoma, leukemia and many others which are preventable but more importantly, curable assuming a timely diagnosis. Pediatricians will also be able to offer invaluable child care advice (related to the raising of the child and not just the medical aspect) which is important not only because of their experience but also the lack of it from the parents. Their main duty with regards to preventive care however will be to provide you with a list of dos and don’ts such as taking their temperature periodically, having testing done to them, staying vigilant to differences in color and texture of feces, frequency of coughing, abnormal crying or suspicious sleep patterns. All those symptoms need attention because babies cannot exactly say ‘’hey mom! Ive got a cold’’. This may sound like simple information but you would be surprised at the recklessness of some parents who ignore simple tips like this at their child’s peril. It makes absolutely no sense to do so in a country that provides so many favorable conditions to parents and their children.  A recent study found that barely over a third (33.33%) of families in Europe have identified or sought a pediatrician which means that parents are either overly confident in their medical instincts or that pediatricians didn’t attend marketing classes because that figure is outrageously low. Let’s for a moment think about vaccines, how would a parent know (independently) what vaccines to give their babies, to protect them against what disease and how often to inject? Those are things that only pediatricians or certified physicians could help with! There is such a thing as infant wrongful death which is caused by negligence from either the parents or their health care facility providing inadequate care or no care at all, which leads to children dying. Without attempting to sound extreme, this does happen or has happened and nobody wants to be a part of that troubling statistic.

Parenting is not easy, there are many books and manuals surfacing on how to raise your babies but it makes no sense to spend money on books and time on reading them when you could take full advantage of France’s world class health care and visit a pediatrician in order to help you with the unknown specifics of child care, breastfeeding, vaccines, disease control and others. Parenting Is not business management or cooking, you can’t learn it effectively trough books and even if you manage to get some ideas, you will never replace the breadth of experience and years of training of qualified physicians that have seen hundreds if not thousands of babies with the same conditions as the ones your baby may have so instead of playing a self-taught guessing game, make the safe choice and don’t even gamble with your child’s health. Leave it to professionals, and make use of their pediatric services. If more pediatricians are demanded, there is no questions that medical faculties will revamp their pediatric programs and the market will take care of fixing their salaries. The vocation will likely not go away nor will your real need to have a professional look after your children.