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What a Pediatrician Can Do

Pediatric Careers


Updated April 29, 2014

Team of doctors discussing in hospital, smiling
Buero Monaco/Taxi/Gett Images
So you have finished 4 years of medical school and 3 years of your internship/residency in Pediatrics. Now what?

Are you stuck treating ear infections and seeing crying babies?

Of course not. Pediatricians have an almost infinite number of career choices open to them, from doing a fellowship and becoming a specialist, becoming a primary care pediatrician and taking care of children from birth to age 21 years, to working in an administrative office for an insurance or pharmaceutical company.

Primary Care Pediatrics

For those doctors that choose general pediatrics, there are still a lot of options open to them as to how they can practice. You might start your own practice (usually with the help of a sponsoring hospital), join another pediatrician or group of pediatricians, or work in a hospital or clinic.

You might also chose to work either full time or part-time. Another option that some pediatricians take is to work as a locum tenens doctor, where you travel around and fill in for other doctors as needed when they take a vacation, are on maternity leave, or just need additional help for a short time.

Pediatric Specialists

After completing a 3 year pediatric residency program, about 1 in 3 Pediatricians decide to train for an additional 3 years in a fellowship program to train for a career in a pediatric subspecialty.

These subspecialties include:

  • Adolescent Medicine
  • Pediatric Allergy and Immunology
  • Pediatric Cardiology
  • Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
  • Developmental-Behavioral
  • Pediatric Emergency Medicine
  • Pediatric Endocrinology
  • Pediatric Gastroenterology
  • Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
  • Pediatric Infectious Diseases
  • Medical Toxicology
  • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
  • Pediatric Nephrology
  • Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
  • Pediatric Pulmonology
  • Pediatric Rheumatology
  • Pediatric Sports Medicine
Among these specialities, you can find and do almost anything that interests you, from taking care of critically ill children to doing bench research to find a cure for diabetes.

Other pediatric specialists, like Pediatric Radiologists, Pediatric Ophthalmologists, and Pediatric Psychiatrists, while they do undergo specialty training, are not usually Pediatricians. Pediatric surgical specialists, including Pediatric Surgeons, Pediatric Neurosurgeons, and Pediatric Urologists are also not usually Pediatricians.

Special Interests

Even if you choose not to specialize, as a general pediatrician, you can still choose the type of patients that you would like to take care of. If you have a special interest in allergies and asthma, then you might choose to see more of patients with these disorders. Or if you like taking care of kids that are having problems in school, you could choose to see more children with ADHD and learning disabilities.

Or if you would like an additional challenge, you could practice general pediatrics in a rural area, where there are not many specialists to refer your patients to. For example, in a big city, while a Pediatric Endocrinologist would likely take care of any child with diabetes, if you lived in a small town, a general pediatrician might have to take care of that child.


Pediatrics is a fun and exciting field to be in. It is also challenging and provides many options for doctors to choose what they want to do. It is these challenges and options that helped an AAP survey to find that '81.5% of pediatricians were either "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with their professional hours, income, skills, and interest level.'

Being a pediatrician is definitely not all ear infections and diaper rashes.

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