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Pediatrician vs. General Practitioner: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in the care of children, while a general practitioner is a doctor who provides care for patients of all ages. Both pediatricians and general practitioners are important members of the medical community, but they have different roles to play. In this article, we compare and contrast pediatricians and general practitioners, and we offer advice on how to choose the right doctor for your needs.

What is a Pediatrician?

Pediatricians are medical doctors who specialize in the care of infants, children and adolescents. They diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions, from minor health problems to serious illnesses. Pediatricians may also provide preventive care, including vaccinations and health screenings. They work in hospitals, clinics and private practices, and some Pediatricians also teach at medical schools or conduct research.

What is a General Practitioner?

A General Practitioner (GP) is a doctor who provides primary care services to patients. They are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, and they can also provide preventative care and health education. GPs usually work in private clinics or hospitals, but they may also work in community health centers or other settings. In some cases, GPs may also provide home visits to patients who are unable to travel to a clinic. GPs typically see patients by appointment, but they may also provide walk-in services.

Pediatrician vs. General Practitioner

Here are the main differences between a pediatrician and a general practitioner.

Job Duties

General practitioners and pediatricians share many of the same job duties. These include taking medical histories, performing physical examinations, ordering diagnostic tests and conducting laboratory analysis. They also both prescribe medications and treat illnesses.

However, there are some differences in the daily job duties between these two types of doctors. Pediatricians specialize in treating diseases and disorders that affect children. As a result, they have particular expertise in diagnosing and treating conditions that occur most frequently in children, such as chicken pox, strep throat and pneumonia.

In contrast, general practitioners treat patients of all ages. While they may have special expertise in treating certain conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, their knowledge is more generalized than that of a pediatrician.

Job Requirements

Pediatricians and general practitioners both need to complete medical school and earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. During medical school, students take classes on topics like human anatomy and physiology, medical ethics and pharmacology. They also complete clinical rotations in different areas of medicine, such as pediatrics, surgery and psychiatry. After medical school, pediatricians must complete a three-year residency program in pediatrics, while general practitioners must complete a three-year residency in family medicine or internal medicine. Finally, both pediatricians and general practitioners must obtain licensure from the state they plan to practice in and pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination.

Work Environment

Pediatricians and general practitioners work in different environments. Pediatricians typically work in hospitals, clinics or private practices that specialize in caring for children. General practitioners may also work in these settings but can also work in other locations such as schools, nursing homes or community health centers.

Pediatricians often work long hours to care for their patients. They may work nights, weekends and holidays to provide 24-hour coverage for their young patients. General practitioners may have more regular working hours because they don’t need to be on call at all times.


Both pediatricians and general practitioners need to have excellent communication skills. They will use these skills when they are talking to patients, families and other medical professionals.

Pediatricians also need to have strong problem-solving skills. This is because they often need to figure out what is causing a child’s illness or injury. General practitioners also need to be good at problem-solving, but they typically deal with less complex cases than pediatricians.

Both pediatricians and general practitioners need to have a good understanding of human anatomy and physiology. However, pediatricians need to have a more in-depth knowledge of children’s development and growth. They also need to be up-to-date on the latest childhood vaccinations. General practitioners do not need to have as much knowledge about child development, but they still need to be familiar with common childhood illnesses and injuries.


Pediatricians earn an average salary of $188,889 per year, while general practitioners earn an average salary of $141,915 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the location of the job, the size of the company, the level of experience and the type of specialization.


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