Health Care Providers: Pediatricians
What Is Pediatrics?
Pediatrics (pee-dee-A-trix) is the branch of medicine that specializes in the development, care, and health conditions of babies, children, and adolescents.
What Is a Pediatrician?
A pediatrician (pee-dee-eh-TRISH-in) is a doctor who diagnoses and treats children’s health conditions and concerns, including physical, behavior, developmental, and mental health issues.
Why Would Someone Need One?
Through regular checkups, pediatricians help make sure that kids grow and develop as they should. They’ll make sure that children get their immunizations on time and refer kids for specialty care as needed. They can diagnose and treat many problems, including:
- ear infections
- minor injuries
- strep throat and tonsillitis
- urinary tract infections
- respiratory illnesses (colds, bronchitis, the flu)
- concerns and problems related to puberty and sexual development
Pediatricians track kids’ growth and development on growth charts. Tests a pediatrician may do include:
- newborn screening tests
- blood tests (for lead, cholesterol, and many other things)
- hearing tests
- STD screening
- tuberculosis testing
- BMI tests
- back-to-school and sports physicals
- mental health screens (checking for depression, etc.)
What Is Their Training?
A pediatrician's training usually includes:
- 4 years of pre-medical education at a college or university
- 4 years of medical school — a medical degree (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree
- 3 years of training in a pediatric residency program
After medical school and residency, they may also do a fellowship in a subspecialty such as pediatric oncology or rheumatology or adolescent medicine. "FAAP" after a pediatrician’s name means the doctor passed their board exam and is a full Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Good to Know
Most pediatricians can take care of kids and teens until they’re young adults (18–21 years old). Some teens switch to an adolescent medicine specialist, a pediatrician who specializes in caring for teens.
Pediatricians and adolescent medicine doctors can help young adults transition to a primary care physician (PCP), such as an internal medicine doctor (internist) or a family medicine doctor.