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The Pediatrician

What is a pediatrician?

A pediatrician is a medical doctor who treats children. They provide:

  • Preventive health maintenance and ongoing monitoring for healthy children.

  • Medical care for children who are acutely or chronically ill.

  • Coordination of care for children after hospital discharge.

Pediatricians manage the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of children. This is in every stage of development, in good health or in illness.

Generally, pediatricians focus on babies, children, teens, and young adults from birth to about age 21 to:

  • Reduce infant and child mortality.

  • Control infectious disease.

  • Foster healthy lifestyles.

  • Ease the problems of children and teens with chronic conditions.

  • Make sure that kids have the correct development and preventive health screenings.

Pediatricians advise on, diagnose, and treat many different diseases, including:

  • Infections

  • Injuries

  • Genetic defects

  • Malignancies

  • Organic diseases and dysfunctions

Pediatricians are concerned with more than physical health. They also are involved with the prevention, early detection, and management of other problems that affect children and teens. These include:

  • Behavioral problems

  • Developmental disorders

  • Functional problems

  • Social stresses

  • Mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety

Pediatrics is a collaborative specialty. These doctors often work with other medical specialists and healthcare professionals.


After graduating from medical school, primary care pediatricians complete 3 years of education in an accredited pediatric post-graduate training program.

Pediatric post-graduate training emphasizes care of the whole infant, child, teen, and young adult. After this training, pediatricians are eligible for board certification by the American Board of Pediatrics with successful completion of a comprehensive written exam. They keep their skills and knowledge up to date with continued education, self-assessment, and clinical improvement. This also helps them stay up on the latest medical advances.

Most pediatricians provide primary care for their patients. Many others choose to continue their education through a fellowship in pediatric subspecialties. This allows them to provide care in a more focused area, such as:

  • Adolescent medicine (teens)

  • Cardiology (heart and blood vessel problems)

  • Critical care medicine (severe illnesses)

  • Emergency medicine (sudden, acute conditions)

  • Endocrinology (hormonal problems)

  • Gastroenterology (digestive problems)

  • Hematology/oncology(blood conditions and cancer)

  • Infectious diseases (diseases caused by organisms)

  • Neonatal/perinatal medicine (problems in babies before and after birth)

  • Neurology (brain and spinal cord problems)

  • Nephrology (kidney problems)

  • Pulmonology (lung problems)

  • Rheumatology (joint and tissue problems)

Medical Reviewers:

  • Liora C Adler MD
  • Maryann Foley RN BSN
  • Pat F Bass MD MPH