Spotlight On: Pediatricians

If you love kids, a career involving the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of children's diseases and injuries may be for you.

Jim Williams

HealthKey.com contributor

April 8, 2010


For most parents, these are the white knights of health-care professionals. You bring a sick, miserable child into a pediatrician's office thinking the worst. You leave feeling better, regardless of how your child might feelÂ…because your child's physician has reassured you that everything will be just fine. That's the magic of the pediatrician.

What They Do

Children are at risk for a variety of diseases, from chicken pox to rubella. And no matter what ails children, they need to be treated in a way that is appropriate to their age and weight. Enter the pediatrician. These specialists are concerned with the physical, emotional and social health of children from birth to young adulthood. Most of their early infant care is preventive, overseeing immunizations and monitoring childhood development. Like most physicians, pediatricians work with different health-care workers, such as nurses and other physicians, to assess and treat children with various ailments. Most of their work involves treating day-to-day illnesses--minor injuries and infectious diseases that are common to children--much as a general practitioner treats adults.

Education and Qualifications

Following graduation from medical school, pediatricians must complete 3 years of education in a pediatric residency program. The 3-year residency includes mandated rotations in general pediatrics, normal newborn care, and time in selected subspecialty areas. Up to 3 additional years of training are required to be certified in a subspecialty.

Demand and Compensation

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pediatrician positions will grow much faster than the average for all careers through 2018. They also predict the retirement of many experienced pediatricians. Open positions should outnumber applicants, especially in rural and low-income areas.

BLS estimates that general pediatricians earned an average of $153,370 in 2008.