Charting Pediatrics podkast

A True Icon of Pediatrics: The Career and Legacy of Barton Schmitt, MD

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As doctors, curiosity can be the driving factor to a long, successful, and fulfilling career. It can be the difference between daily repetition and years of practicing evolved education. For Barton Schmitt, MD, curiosity has been a transformative force for over 50 years, influencing his approach to teaching residents, patient encounters and career development. Otherwise known as a true icon of pediatrics, Dr. Schmitt’s humble, down-to-earth nature helped create one of the most prestigious pediatric guidelines in our industry. “Feedback from a variety of sources is really the life blood of all of this. At least 100 to 150 of the protocols are updated every year,” Dr. Schmitt says.  

For more than five decades, Dr. Schmitt has elevated the Children’s Hospital Colorado name while creating an honorable legacy of his own. Many of you know him as the author of the ‘Pediatric Telephone Triage Guidelines’ used in our Pediatric Call Center. Those decision-support tools are now used worldwide and have been translated into multiple languages. Throughout his career he’s had numerous other titles such as the Faculty Attending for the Child Health Clinic and the medical director of the Child Protection Team. Now on the brink of his next chapter, we reflect on his incredible legacy and find out what’s next. 

“I’m hoping to retire when I’m 90. I’ve got to because I have other things I want to do, including some books I want to write about teaching residents,” Dr. Schmitt says. 

Some highlights from this episode include: 

  • Details about the creation and expansion of the Pediatric Telephone Triage Guidelines 
  • The impact that curiosity has had on his career 
  • His hopes for the future 
  • Advice for doctors, nurses and medical professionals 

“Continual quality improvement is a team sport," Dr. Schmitt says.

Dr. Schmitt wants to thank the many health care professionals who help him keep the pediatric telehealth guidelines, parent handouts and symptom checker up-to-date. Most of all, his dedicated pediatric editorial team:

  • Medical editors: Sam Wang, MD, and Julia Bruckner, MD.
  • Nurse editors: Kelli Massaro, RN and Lisa Swerczek, RN.
  • Specialists at Children’s Colorado, who provide expert reviews of new topics.
  • The many triage nurses who have worked in the Children's Colorado call center since 1988 and made observations that led to change.
  • David Thompson, MD FACEP and the Adult Editorial Team
  • The nurse leadership at over 40 other U.S. and Canadian call centers who provide the annual user feedback that keep the guidelines reality-based and evolving.

For more information on Children’s Colorado, visit:    

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