Career Development

What Does a Pediatrician Do?

Find out what a pediatrician does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a pediatrician.

A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in the care of infants, children and adolescents. They provide medical care for all stages of growth and development from birth to adulthood.

Pediatricians are often the primary source of health information for parents and guardians. This means that they play an important role in helping families make decisions about their child’s health and well-being.

Pediatrician Job Duties

Pediatricians have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Establishing a rapport with patients and their families by providing emotional support and answering any questions they may have
  • Conducting physical examinations of patients, including taking height, weight, pulse rate, and blood pressure measurements
  • Counseling parents about healthy lifestyle choices for their children including diet, exercise, sleep habits, and hygiene practices
  • Diagnosing and treating childhood illnesses and injuries with the help of nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other members of the healthcare team
  • Administering vaccinations, including flu shots and other types of immunizations as required by state law
  • Providing general health care services to children including diagnoses, treatment, and follow up care for acute illnesses or chronic conditions
  • Performing minor surgical procedures such as removing tonsils or moles when needed
  • Managing children’s chronic illnesses, such as asthma or diabetes, by working with the child’s family and other medical specialists to develop an appropriate treatment plan
  • Educating parents on how to administer medications to their children and how to spot signs of illness in their own children

Pediatrician Salary & Outlook

Pediatricians’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of practice they have.

  • Median Annual Salary: $175,000 ($84.13/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $495,000 ($237.98/hour)

The employment of pediatricians is expected to decline over the next decade.

The number of pediatricians per capita is expected to decline because of an aging population of pediatricians and a decrease in the number of medical school graduates who choose to specialize in pediatrics. As older physicians continue to practice, fewer new practitioners will be needed. In addition, fewer medical students are choosing to specialize in pediatrics, which also will result in fewer pediatricians entering the workforce.

Related: 17 Pediatrician Interview Questions and Answers

Pediatrician Job Requirements

A pediatrician typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Pediatricians need to complete a four-year undergraduate program to obtain a bachelor’s degree. During their undergraduate years, students can take courses in biology, chemistry, physics and math.

After completing their undergraduate degree, aspiring pediatricians need to earn a medical degree. They can do this by completing a six-year program that includes four years of medical school and two years of residency. During medical school, students can expect to spend their first two years taking courses in anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, biochemistry and other medical topics. The final two years of medical school are spent in a residency program, where students can specialize in pediatrics.

Training & Experience: After completing medical school, pediatricians must complete a residency program. These programs typically last three years and provide pediatricians with hands-on experience in a clinical setting. During a residency, pediatricians will work under the supervision of experienced pediatricians. They will learn how to diagnose and treat common pediatric illnesses and injuries.

After completing a residency, pediatricians must complete a fellowship. Fellowships typically last two years and allow pediatricians to specialize in a specific area of pediatric medicine. Fellowships allow pediatricians to learn more about pediatric cardiology, pediatric oncology, pediatric infectious diseases and other areas of pediatric medicine.

Certifications & Licenses: After completing their residency, all doctors must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) to be licensed to practice. The purpose of the exam is to test the knowledge and skills that newly minted doctors have to apply to real-world situations.

Pediatrician Skills

Pediatricians need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Pediatricians communicate with patients, parents and other medical professionals. They use verbal and nonverbal communication to explain medical conditions to patients and parents. They also use communication to explain treatment options and procedures to medical staff.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Pediatricians often use empathy to help children feel comfortable during medical procedures or when they are experiencing pain. Empathy can also help pediatricians communicate with parents about their child’s health.

Organization: Pediatricians often have many patients to see in a day, so it’s important for them to be organized. This can help them prioritize their work and ensure they have time to see each patient. It can also help them keep track of patient information and medical records.

Medical knowledge: Pediatricians need to stay up-to-date on medical advancements and research in their field. They can do this by reading medical journals, attending conferences and continuing their education. Medical knowledge can help them make informed decisions about their patients’ treatment plans.

Nonverbal communication: Pediatricians often use nonverbal communication to convey messages to their patients and parents. They may use gestures, facial expressions and body language to explain medical procedures, answer questions and reassure patients. Pediatricians may also use nonverbal communication to encourage parents to ask questions and help them understand their child’s health.

Pediatrician Work Environment

Most pediatricians work in private medical offices, although some may work in hospitals, clinics, or other health care settings. They typically work a 40-hour week, although they may be on call 24 hours a day and work nights and weekends. Because they care for sick children, they must be able to deal with the stress of seeing children who are ill or injured. They must also be able to handle the emotional stress of dealing with worried parents. In addition, pediatricians must be able to make quick decisions in emergency situations.

Pediatrician Trends

Here are three trends influencing how pediatricians work. Pediatricians will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More Attention to Mental Health

Mental health is becoming a more important topic in society, and pediatricians are increasingly being asked to play a role in addressing mental health issues in children.

As mental health becomes more of a focus, pediatricians will need to be able to identify mental health problems early on and provide the necessary support for children and their families. They will also need to be familiar with the latest treatments and therapies that are available.

More Focus on Preventative Care

Preventative care is an important trend in pediatrics, as it can help to keep children healthy and prevent them from developing serious illnesses.

Pediatricians can capitalize on this trend by focusing on preventive care services, such as vaccinations and screenings. They can also work to educate parents about the importance of these services and how they can help to keep their children healthy.

A Greater Emphasis on Family-Centered Care

Family-centered care is a trend that is quickly gaining popularity among pediatricians. This approach focuses on providing care that meets the needs of the entire family, rather than just the child.

By adopting family-centered care, pediatricians can improve the overall experience for patients and their families. They can also create stronger bonds with their patients, which may lead to better long-term outcomes.

How to Become a Pediatrician

A pediatrician career path can be very rewarding. It offers the opportunity to work with children and their families, which can be very rewarding. You’ll also have the chance to learn about child development and help parents make informed decisions about raising their children.

To become a pediatrician, you’ll need to complete medical school and residency training. This is a long process that requires dedication and hard work. However, it’s worth it when you see the difference you’re making in the lives of children and their families.

Advancement Prospects

After completing a residency in pediatrics, many pediatricians enter private practice. Some become partners in group practices, while others set up solo practices. A few pediatricians work in hospital clinics.

With experience, pediatricians can move into administrative positions or take on additional responsibilities, such as heading a clinic or becoming a medical director. Some pediatricians also teach at medical schools or do research.

Those who want to specialize in a particular area of pediatrics can complete a fellowship in such areas as adolescent medicine, cardiology, child abuse, critical care, neonatology, or oncology.

Pediatrician Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we provide comprehensive, high-quality medical care to infants, children, and adolescents. We are looking for a board-certified/board-eligible pediatrician to join our team. The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in working with a diverse patient population and be comfortable with a wide range of medical procedures. He or she will be expected to provide general pediatric care, as well as perform well in a fast-paced environment. The ability to work well with other members of the healthcare team is essential.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Provide comprehensive primary care for infants, children, and adolescents
  • Develop and implement individualized treatment plans based on each patient’s unique needs
  • Educate patients and families on a variety of health topics, including growth and development, nutrition, safety, and disease prevention
  • Monitor patients’ progress and adjust treatments as needed
  • Keep abreast of the latest developments in pediatrics through continued medical education and research
  • Serve as a resource to other healthcare professionals, providing guidance and consultation as needed
  • Admit patients to the hospital when necessary and coordinate their care with the hospital staff
  • Perform routine physical examinations and well-child visits
  • Diagnose and treat common childhood illnesses, injuries, and infections
  • Identify and manage chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and obesity
  • Provide immunizations and screenings according to recommended schedules
  • Offer counseling on a variety of issues, including behavior, school performance, and social interactions

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • M.D. or D.O. from an accredited medical school
  • Completion of three-year pediatric residency program
  • Board certified or board eligible in pediatrics
  • Current state medical license
  • DEA certification
  • CPR certification

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Bilingual (English/Spanish)
  • Experience working with underserved populations
  • Experience in a community health center setting
  • Familiarity with electronic medical records


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