In addition to the physical well-being of children, pediatricians are also concerned with their social and environmental influences.
Pediatricians are doctors who focus on the physical, mental, emotional, and social health of children from the time they're born until they become young adults — usually up to age 21.
They provide preventive healthcare for children who are healthy, as well as medical care for those who have short-term illnesses or chronic illnesses.
The goals of a pediatrician include:
- Reducing infant and child mortality
- Controlling infectious diseases
- Promoting healthy lifestyles
While pediatricians typically work in healthcare settings such as doctors' offices, clinics, and hospitals, they may also be involved in the community by advocating for health-related concerns and issues affecting children.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in May 2012, there were about 31,000 pediatricians in the United States. Their median annual salary was $175,400.
What Do Pediatricians Treat?
Pediatricians diagnose and treat numerous conditions, including:
- Genetic conditions
- Cancerous growths
- Physical diseases and dysfunctions
Pediatricians are also concerned with the biological, social, and environmental influences on children, and take part in the prevention, detection, and treatment of:
- Behavioral issues
- Developmental disorders
- Functional problems
- Social stresses
- Anxiety disorders
When necessary, pediatricians often work with other medical providers to best serve the needs of their patients.
Pediatricians also have to interact closely with their patients' parents or guardians.
Pediatrician Training and Education
After earning their undergraduate degree, aspiring pediatricians go on to complete four years of medical school.
They must then spend three years at an accredited pediatric residency program, where they learn about caring for infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.
Once they've finished their residency, pediatricians can become board certified by passing an examination given by the American Board of Pediatrics. They must recertify every seven years to maintain this credential.
While most pediatricians focus on the primary care of children, some go on to obtain more education in a subspecialty of pediatrics. These subspecialties include:
Neonatal/perinatal medicine:?Care of newborn babies, including those born at a low birth weight or with a condition that requires special treatment.
Conditions that neonatologists treat include premature birth, breathing difficulties, congenital (present-at-birth) heart disease, and genetic syndromes and disorders.
Adolescent/young adult medicine:?Focuses on young people between the ages of about 12 and 21, with some doctors extending the range as high as 24.
Issues and conditions that frequently arise include physicals for school, work, or sports; chronic conditions like diabetes,?asthma, and frequent headaches; birth control and prevention, screening, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); and distress caused by pregnancy, STDs, substance abuse, or depression.
Pediatric critical care medicine:?Focuses on acute problems in children, including lung and heart problems, severe infections, liver failure, blood problems, and neurological disorders.
Pediatric emergency medicine:?Focuses on stabilizing emergency conditions, such as trauma and injury,?pneumonia, severe asthma attacks, smoke inhalation, near drowning, and intoxication or poisoning.
Pediatric cardiology:?Covers care of children with heart disease, which often results from birth defects and genetic syndromes.
Pediatric endocrinology:?Covers disorders of the endocrine system (hormones and other natural chemicals in the body), such as diabetes, growth deficiencies, thyroid disorders,?high cholesterol?or triglycerides, and hirsutism (excess body hair due to hormonal abnormalities).
Pediatric gastroenterology:?Focuses on disorders of the digestive tract, including inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies,?celiac disease?and gluten intolerance, and bowel problems such as constipation and diarrhea.
Pediatric infectious diseases:?Focuses on treating potentially complicated infections, such as?Lyme disease,?methicillin-resistant?Staphylococcus aureus?(MRSA), and unknown infections or unexplained fever.
Pediatric nephrology:?Covers diseases and disorders of the kidneys, including congenital kidney malformations, kidney failure, proteinuria (excess protein in the urine), electrolyte disorders, and?kidney stones.
Pediatric pulmonology:?Covers breathing disorders and allergies, including asthma, eosinophilic esophagitis (soreness and swelling of the esophagus), chronic lung disease, eczema, and latex, food, drug, or pollen allergies.