What is a Pediatrician?
A pediatrician is a medical doctor who specializes in the health and well-being of children, from infancy through adolescence. They are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions that affect children, including chronic illnesses, developmental disorders, and acute illnesses such as infections and injuries. Pediatricians are also responsible for promoting preventive care, including vaccinations and routine check-ups, to ensure that children grow and develop in a healthy way.
Pediatricians work closely with parents and caregivers to provide care that is tailored to each child's unique needs. They may perform physical examinations, order diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications or other treatments as needed. In addition to providing medical care, pediatricians may also offer guidance and support to parents on issues such as nutrition, sleep, and behavior. They play an important role in helping children and families stay healthy and thrive.
What does a Pediatrician do?
Duties and Responsibilities
Pediatricians play an important role in the health and well-being of children. Their duties and responsibilities include:
- Routine Pediatric Care: Pediatricians provide comprehensive primary care to children, including regular check-ups, well-child visits, and vaccinations. They monitor growth and development, assess physical and mental health, and provide guidance on nutrition, hygiene, and overall wellness.
- Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatricians diagnose and treat a variety of acute and chronic illnesses and conditions in children. They evaluate symptoms, order diagnostic tests, interpret results, and develop appropriate treatment plans. This may involve prescribing medications, providing medical interventions, or referring patients to specialists for further evaluation or treatment.
- Preventive Medicine: Pediatricians focus on preventive care to promote healthy childhood development and prevent diseases. They educate parents and caregivers about immunizations, safety measures, injury prevention, and disease prevention strategies. They also conduct developmental screenings and provide early intervention for developmental delays or behavioral concerns.
- Management of Chronic Conditions: Pediatricians manage chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, allergies, and developmental disorders. They work with patients and their families to develop individualized care plans, provide ongoing monitoring, adjust treatment as needed, and coordinate with specialists or allied healthcare professionals.
- Patient Education and Counseling: Pediatricians play a vital role in educating parents, caregivers, and patients about health and wellness. They provide guidance on topics like nutrition, growth milestones, behavioral issues, and emotional well-being. They address concerns, answer questions, and offer counseling and support for families to make informed healthcare decisions.
- Collaboration and Referrals: Pediatricians collaborate with other healthcare professionals, including specialists, nurses, therapists, and social workers, to ensure comprehensive care for their patients. They may refer patients to specialists when necessary and coordinate care across different healthcare settings.
- Documentation and Medical Records: Pediatricians maintain accurate and detailed medical records of patients' health histories, examinations, diagnoses, treatments, and follow-ups. They ensure confidentiality and adhere to legal and ethical standards related to medical documentation.
- Continuing Education: Pediatricians engage in ongoing professional development and stay updated on advancements in pediatric medicine. They attend conferences, seminars, and workshops to enhance their knowledge and skills and stay abreast of emerging research and best practices.
Types of Pediatricians
Pediatrics is a broad field. Pediatricians may choose to specialize in a particular area of pediatric medicine based on their interests and expertise. Here is a list of some common types of pediatricians:
- General Pediatrician: General pediatricians provide primary care to infants, children, and adolescents. They focus on overall wellness, routine check-ups, vaccinations, and the management of common childhood illnesses and conditions. They serve as the first point of contact for parents and provide comprehensive care throughout a child's development.
- Pediatric Cardiologist: Pediatric cardiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating heart conditions in children. They evaluate and manage congenital heart defects, heart murmurs, arrhythmias, and other heart-related issues. They may perform diagnostic tests, such as echocardiograms, and develop treatment plans to optimize heart health in pediatric patients.
- Pediatric Endocrinologist: Pediatric endocrinologists specialize in diagnosing and treating hormonal disorders in children. They manage conditions such as diabetes, growth disorders, thyroid disorders, puberty disorders, and adrenal gland disorders.
- Pediatric Gastroenterologist: Pediatric gastroenterologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive system disorders in children. They manage conditions such as gastrointestinal reflux, food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, liver diseases, and nutritional disorders. They may perform procedures like endoscopies or colonoscopies to evaluate and treat gastrointestinal conditions.
- Pediatric Pulmonologist: Pediatric pulmonologists focus on respiratory disorders and diseases in children. They diagnose and manage conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic cough, and other respiratory conditions. They may conduct pulmonary function tests, interpret imaging studies, and develop individualized treatment plans to optimize lung health in pediatric patients.
- Pediatric Neurologist: Pediatric neurologists specialize in diagnosing and treating neurological conditions in children. They evaluate and manage disorders such as epilepsy, developmental delays, headaches, cerebral palsy, and genetic neurological disorders. They may perform neurological examinations, order imaging studies, and prescribe medications to manage neurological conditions.
- Pediatric Oncologist: Pediatric oncologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers in children. They manage various types of childhood cancers, coordinate care with other specialists, and oversee treatment plans such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgical interventions. They work closely with a multidisciplinary team to provide comprehensive care to pediatric cancer patients.
- Pediatric Rheumatologist: Pediatric rheumatologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders affecting the joints, muscles, and connective tissues in children. They manage conditions like juvenile arthritis, lupus, juvenile dermatomyositis, and other rheumatic diseases.
- Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician: Developmental-behavioral pediatricians focus on evaluating and managing developmental and behavioral issues in children. They assess developmental delays, learning disabilities, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and behavioral problems. They provide interventions, therapies, and guidance to support children's developmental and behavioral needs.
- Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist: Pediatric infectious disease specialists focus on diagnosing and managing infectious diseases in children. They specialize in conditions such as bacterial infections, viral infections, fungal infections, and parasitic infections.
- Pediatric Allergist/Immunologist: Pediatric allergists/immunologists focus on diagnosing and managing allergic conditions and immunodeficiency disorders in children. They evaluate and treat allergies, asthma, food allergies, eczema, and immune system deficiencies.
- Pediatric Nephrologist: Pediatric nephrologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney-related conditions in children. They manage conditions such as kidney disease, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and congenital abnormalities of the urinary system.
- Pediatric Surgeon: Pediatric surgeons focus on performing surgical procedures on infants, children, and adolescents. They are trained to address a wide range of surgical conditions specific to the pediatric population, including congenital abnormalities, tumors, injuries, and developmental disorders.
What is the workplace of a Pediatrician like?
Pediatricians work in a variety of settings, including private practices, hospitals, clinics, and academic institutions. Their work environment can vary based on their specialty and the type of practice they are working in.
In a private practice setting, a pediatrician may work in an office with one or more other physicians, nurses, and administrative staff. They may see patients for routine check-ups, sick visits, and vaccinations. They may also communicate with parents and caregivers about their child's health, provide education and advice, and make referrals to specialists if necessary. They may work regular business hours, with evenings and weekends off, or they may work longer hours to accommodate patients' schedules.
In a hospital setting, a pediatrician may work in the emergency department, inpatient units, or intensive care units. They may work alongside other medical professionals, including nurses, nurse practitioners, and residents. They may be responsible for diagnosing and treating a wide range of medical conditions in children, including acute illnesses and injuries. They may also be responsible for overseeing the care of critically ill patients and coordinating with other specialists as needed.
In an academic setting, a pediatrician may work in a research institution or medical school. They may conduct research on pediatric health issues, teach medical students and residents, and provide clinical care to patients. They may work with other specialists, such as psychologists and social workers, to provide comprehensive care to children and their families.
Regardless of their work environment, pediatricians are responsible for providing compassionate and effective medical care to children. They must have excellent communication skills to effectively communicate with children, parents, and caregivers. They must also have strong problem-solving skills and be able to work well under pressure, as they may be responsible for making critical medical decisions in emergency situations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Comprehensive List of Doctor Specializations and Degrees
Here is a comprehensive list of specializations that a doctor can pursue and a brief summary of each specialization:
- Allergist: An allergist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma, and related conditions. Allergists have specialized training in the recognition and management of allergic reactions.
- Anesthesiologist: An anesthesiologist keeps a patient comfortable, safe and pain-free during surgery by administering local or general anesthetic.
- Cardiologist: A cardiologist specializes in finding, treating, and preventing diseases that affect the heart, the arteries, and the veins.
- Cardiothoracic Surgeon: A cardiothoracic surgeon specializes in surgical procedures inside the thorax (the chest), which may involve the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. As well as performing surgery, they also diagnose and treat diseases of these organs.
- Chiropractic Neurologist: A chiropractic neurologist is a specialized type of chiropractor who has undergone additional training in the field of neurology. They diagnose and treat conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system.
- Chiropractor: A chiropractor, or doctor of chiropractic medicine, specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system, especially in the spine. Treatment is usually physical manipulation of the joints and the spine to bring them back into alignment. A chiropractor does not perform surgery or prescribe medication.
- Colorectal Surgeon: A colorectal surgeon specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, as well as the entire gastric tract. These surgeons work closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women, gynecologists, who deal with specific female issues, and gastroenterologists, who deal with diseases of the gut.
- Doctor: An general overview of what a doctor does and how to become one.
- Dentist: Dentists identify potential oral health issues such as gum disease, as well as examine patients, order medical tests and determine the correct diagnosis and treatment. They also perform oral surgery and remove teeth or address other dental health problems.
- Dermatologist: A dermatologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting skin, hair, sweat and oil glands, nails, and mucus membranes (inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids) which can include cancer.
- Emergency Medicine Physician: An emergency medicine physician works in emergency departments, hospitals, and urgent care clinics, and is often the first medical professional that patients see when they are in need of urgent medical care.
- Endocrinologist: An endocrinologist specializes in diagnosing conditions and diseases related to the glands and hormones. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for conditions and diseases directly related to glands and hormones they will typically send a patient to an endocrinologist.
- Family Practitioner: A family practitioner specializes in caring for the entire family. Patients can be children, adults, and the elderly, and are treated for a wide array of medical issues.
- Forensic Pathologist: A forensic pathologist investigates the cause of sudden and unexpected deaths, and is able to determine how a person died by performing an autopsy and studying tissue and laboratory results. These doctors are often called upon to provide evidence in court regarding the cause and time of such deaths.
- Gastroenterologist: A gastroenterologist has specific training in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This may include diseases and disorders that affect the the biliary system (liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts), as well as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon).
- Geriatrician: A geriatrician specializes in the care of elderly patients, and often works with patients who have multiple chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as age-related cognitive and functional impairments.
- Gynecologist: A gynecologist specializes in women's reproductive systems. Gynecologists are also sometimes certified as obstetricians, and will monitor the health of the mother and the fetus during a pregnancy.
- Hematologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders, such as anemia and leukemia.
- Hospitalist: A hospitalist is a physician whose focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their duties include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital medicine.
- Immunologist: An immunologist specializes in managing problems related to the immune system, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. A smaller number of immunologists are strictly researchers seeking to better understand how the immune system works and to help develop better ways of diagnosing and providing treatment for many immunological conditions.
- Infectious Disease Specialist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
- Internist: An internist is a 'doctor of internal medicine' who can diagnose, treat, and practice compassionate care for adults across the spectrum, from health to complex illness. They are not to be mistaken with "interns," who are doctors in their first year of residency training.
- Medical Examiner: Medical examiners are responsible for performing autopsies and collecting evidence related to the circumstances of a death, including medical history, physical examination findings, and toxicology tests.
- Naturopathic Physician: A naturopathic physician blends modern scientific medical practice and knowledge with natural and traditional forms of medical treatment. The goal is to treat the underlying causes of disease while stimulating the body's own healing abilities.
- Nephrologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. They treat conditions such as chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, kidney stones, hypertension, and electrolyte imbalances.
- Neurologist: A neurologist specializes in treating diseases that affect the human nervous system. It is a very prestigious and difficult medical specialty due to the complexity of the nervous system, which consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves.
- Neurosurgeon: A neurosurgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system. This includes congenital anomalies, trauma, tumours, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the spine.
- Obstetrician: An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in caring for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
- Occupational Physician: Occupational medicine is focused on keeping individuals well at work, both mentally and physically. As workplaces become more complex, occupational physicians play an important role in advising people on how their work can affect their health.
- Oncologist: An oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The three primary types of oncologists are: medical oncologists that specialize in the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells; surgical oncologists that perform surgical procedures to identify and remove cancerous tumors; and radiation oncologists that treat cancer with radiation therapy.
- Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a specialist that deals specifically with the structure, function, diseases, and treatment of the eye. Due to the complexities and the importance of the eye as a special sense that provides vision, the discipline of ophthalmology is dedicated solely to this organ.
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: An oral and maxillofacial surgeon treats dental and medical problems involving the oral cavity and the maxillofacial area. The maxillofacial area includes the bones of the forehead, face, cheekbones and the soft tissues. Treatment often involves performing surgery and related procedures to treat diseases, defects, or injuries, and to improve function or appearance.
- Orthopaedic Surgeon / Orthopedist: An orthopaedic surgeon (or orthopedist) examines, diagnoses, and treats diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves.
- Orthodontist: An orthodontist specializes in how the jaws and teeth are aligned. They help people whose teeth are misaligned or require some kind of correction – those with an improper bite, or malocclusion.
- Osteopath: Osteopaths have attended and graduated from an osteopathic medical school and practise the system of healthcare known as osteopathy. They consider all aspects of the patient, not just the symptoms they exhibit. They see the integrated nature of the body’s organ systems and its capacity for self-regulation and self-healing.
- Otolaryngologist: Otolaryngologists (or ENT physicians) are specialists trained in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. These specialists are trained in both medicine and surgery.
- Pathologist: A pathologist studies the causes, nature, and effects of disease. The field of pathology is broad with concentrations on changes in cells, tissues, and organs that are the result of a disease.
- Pediatrician: A pediatrician specializes in providing medical care to infants, children and teenagers by administering treatments, therapies, medications and vaccinations to treat illness, disorders or injuries.
- Periodontist: A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in oral inflammation, and who knows how to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease.
- Plastic Surgeon: A plastic surgeon specializes in reshaping healthy body parts for aesthetic reasons, and also in repairing or replacing body parts damaged by accidents, illness or malformation.
- Podiatrist: A podiatrist practices podiatric medicine, which is a branch of science devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and study of medical disorders of the foot, ankle, lower leg and lower back. In the U.S. and Canada, podiatry is practiced as a specialty.
- Prosthodontist: A prosthodontist specializes in restoring the look, function, comfort, and health of a patient's oral cavity with artificial materials. These artificial materials are made up of a wide variety of restorations that include fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, bridges and oral implants.
- Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are physicians who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by a temporary or chronic mental health problem.
- Pulmonologist: A pulmonologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary (lung) conditions and diseases of the chest, particularly pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and complicated chest infections.
- Radiologist: A radiologist is a specialist in interpreting medical images that may be obtained with x-rays, (CT scans or radiographs), nuclear medicine (involving radioactive substances, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound.
- Rheumatologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
- Sports Medicine Physician: A sports medicine physician specializes in taking care of people who have sports injuries that may be acquired from playing sports, exercising, or from otherwise being physically active.
- Surgeon: A surgeon performs surgery for the purpose of removing diseased tissue or organs, to repair body systems, or to replace diseased organs with transplants.
- Urologist: A urologist specializes in the treatment of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Urologists can treat the kidneys, urinary bladder, urethra, uterus, and male reproductive organs. There are also specific specialty areas that urologists may choose to focus on, such as pediatric urology, male infertility, and urologic oncology.
- Vascular Medicine Specialist - A vascular medicine specialist specializes in the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels. They may work with patients who have conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease, or pulmonary embolism.
- Vascular Surgeon - A vascular surgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels, including aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and varicose veins.
- Osteopathic Medicine
- Naturopathic Medicine
- Podiatric Medicine
- Veterinary Medicine
Pros and cons of being a Pediatrician
Here are some pros and cons to consider while you're mulling over the idea of becoming a pediatrician:
Pros of Being a Pediatrician
- Making a Difference in Children’s Lives: Pediatricians have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the health and well-being of children. They help to diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses, and they work to promote healthy habits and lifestyles for their young patients.
- Rewarding Career: Many pediatricians find their work to be incredibly rewarding. They get to watch their patients grow and develop over time and often build long-lasting relationships with them and their families.
- Variety of Career Paths: Pediatricians can work in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, and public health departments. They can also choose to specialize in areas such as cardiology, oncology, or neurology, among others.
- Competitive Salary: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pediatricians earn a median annual salary of over $187,000, making it a well-paying career.
- Job Security: There will always be a need for pediatricians, and job security in this field is generally good. This is especially true in underserved areas, where there may be a shortage of medical professionals.
Cons of Being a Pediatrician
- Long Hours: Pediatricians often work long and irregular hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays. This can be challenging for those who value work-life balance or have families of their own.
- Emotional Toll: Caring for sick or injured children can be emotionally challenging, and some pediatricians may find it difficult to manage the stress of the job.
- High Levels of Responsibility: Pediatricians are responsible for the health and well-being of their young patients, and this can be a significant source of pressure. Mistakes can have serious consequences, and this can be stressful for some doctors.
- Extensive Education and Training: Becoming a pediatrician requires a significant investment of time and money. Prospective pediatricians must complete a four-year bachelor's degree, a four-year medical degree, and a three-year residency program. Additionally, many pediatricians choose to complete a fellowship to specialize in a particular area of pediatrics.
- Administrative Work: Pediatricians are often responsible for managing their practice or clinic, which can involve a lot of administrative work such as scheduling appointments, managing finances, and dealing with insurance companies. Some doctors may find this aspect of the job to be tedious or stressful.
Pediatricians are also known as:
Paediatrician General Pediatrician