Pediatricians practice the specialty of medical science concerned with the physical, emotional, and social health of children from birth to young adulthood. Pediatric care encompasses a broad spectrum of health services ranging from preventive health care to the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic diseases. Pediatricians understand the many factors that affect the growth and development of children. They understand that children are not simply small adults. Children change rapidly, and they must be approached with an appreciation for their stage of physical and mental development.
Specialty training required prior to certification: Three years
Developmentally oriented and trained in skilled assessment, pediatricians’ patient-care lenses are focused on prevention, detection and management of physical, behavioral, developmental and social problems that affect children.
Pediatricians diagnose and treat infections, injuries and many types of organic disease and dysfunction. They work to reduce infant and child mortality, foster healthy lifestyles, and ease the day-to-day difficulties of those with chronic conditions. With structured evaluation and early intervention, pediatricians identify and address developmental and behavioral problems that result from exposure to psychosocial stressors. They appreciate the vulnerability of childhood and adolescence, and actively advocate for measures to protect their health and safety.
The ability to communicate effectively with patients, families, teachers and social service professionals is key to effective pediatric care. Pediatricians collaborate with pediatric subspecialists and other medical and surgical specialists in the treatment of complex diseases and disorders. They work closely with other health professionals concerned with the emotional needs of children. They advise educators and child care professionals. They are major advocates for access to care and a medical home for all children.
Opportunities for graduates of pediatric residencies are diverse and numerous:
Ninety-one percent of residents seeking a general practice position report obtaining one of their two most desired position.
Training in general pediatrics is also the portal for careers in the pediatric subspecialties. Because many pediatric subspecialties are currently experiencing workforce shortages or are anticipated to experience such shortages in the near future, a healthy supply of graduates of general pediatrics residency programs is essential to ensure an adequate pediatric subspecialty workforce.
Flexible jobs are more common in pediatrics than in any other specialty:
Pediatrics is at the forefront of the trend toward more flexible work arrangements for physicians. Thirty-eight percent of graduating pediatric residents apply for part-time work and more than half—one in five graduating pediatric residents— accept a part-time position. Data indicate that 26 percent of pediatricians versus 14 percent of all physicians have worked part time at some point in their careers.
Pediatrics is a specialty that offers a broad spectrum of rewarding career options. Pediatricians are free to choose one or more practice settings and styles and they may pursue a wide variety of interests. Generalist pediatricians are needed now and in the future to serve as educators, mentors, hospitalists and researchers. Rewarding careers are also available in public health, international health, health policy and administrative leadership.