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What is a pediatrician?
A pediatrician is a child's doctor who provides:
- Preventive health maintenance and ongoing monitoring for healthy children.
- Medical care for children who are acutely or chronically ill.
- Coordination of care for children after hospital discharge.
Pediatricians manage the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of their patients, in every stage of development, in good health or in illness.
Generally, pediatricians focus on babies, children, adolescents, and young adults from birth to age 21 years to:
- Reduce infant and child mortality.
- Control infectious disease.
- Foster healthy lifestyles.
- Ease the difficulties of children and adolescents with chronic conditions.
Pediatricians diagnose and treat many different diseases, including:
- Genetic defects
- Organic diseases and dysfunctions
However, pediatricians are concerned with more than physical well-being. They also are involved with the prevention, early detection, and management of other problems that affect children and adolescents, including the following:
- Behavioral difficulties
- Developmental disorders
- Functional problems
- Social stresses
- Depression or anxiety disorders
Pediatrics is a collaborative specialty. They work with other medical specialists and health care professionals to provide for the health and emotional needs of children.
Following graduation from medical school, primary care pediatricians complete 3 years of education in an accredited pediatric residency program.
Pediatric residency training emphasizes care of the whole infant, child, adolescent, and young adult. Following the pediatric residency, the pediatrician is eligible for board certification by the American Board of Pediatrics with successful completion of a comprehensive written examination. Recertification is required every 10 years.
Although most pediatricians are involved in the provision of primary care for their patients, many others choose to continue their education through a fellowship in pediatric subspecialties such as the following:
- Adolescent medicine
- Critical care medicine
- Emergency medicine
- Infectious diseases
- Neonatal/perinatal medicine