Pediatricians are specialized physicians who provide primary care for children of all ages, treating children for a host of conditions from the time they are infants until they become adults.

Watch an Overview of Pediatrics

About Pediatrics

Pediatricians are trained to diagnose and treat the various illnesses, disorders, diseases, and complications of infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatricians are trained to act as a primary care providers for children, usually serving as the point of first contact when a child is sick. Many children develop a close relationship with their pediatrician, and may see the same doctor until the age of 18 or later.

Although children can be treated by family doctors or general practitioners, pediatricians have been specially trained to provide the unique care that children require. These physicians are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of major and minor illnesses, colds, infections, fevers, minor injuries, and other complications unique to children. Patients visit pediatricians for routine checkups, blood tests, and other diagnostic techniques and procedures.

Pediatricians may also provide a low level of counseling for parents of patients, advising them on the proper ways to help their child develop properly and stay as healthy as possible. Pediatricians usually develop a strong relationship with the child’s parents to provide the highest possible degree of care for the child.

Pediatrics Education & Training

Pediatricians must complete undergraduate, medical school and residency training in order practice in the specialty of pediatrics. A pediatrician’s education begins with the completion of a bachelor’s degree before entering medical school. After earning a four year medical degree from an accredited medical school, the physician will need to complete a three to four year internship and residency program.

During residency training, the physician begins to diagnose and treat patients while under the supervision of licensed, experienced pediatricians and physicians. While serving as a resident, the physician is exposed to the various treatment techniques for treating a wide range of complications experienced by infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatric residents will also gain insight into the proper bedside manner and provision of care needed by children; they must polish the communication skills that are necessary to explain diagnoses and treatment plans to not only the patient (when applicable), but to the parent(s) or caregivers as well. Residency training allows the physician to pursue a wide range of career paths in the field of pediatrics including subspecialty training, private practice or academia.

After completing residency training, many pediatricians pursue board certification from the American Board of Pediatrics. In order to practice, all pediatricians must be issued a medical license from the state in which they intend to provide care.