General Pediatrician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

General pediatricians require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

General pediatricians are doctors who work with babies, children and adolescents. Pediatric physicians must have general medical knowledge and an understanding of how treatments affect different developmental growth stages. Pediatricians must complete four years of college, four years of medical school and a 3- to 8-year residency. They must also acquire certification through the American Board of Pediatricians.

Required EducationProfessional medical degree (e.g., Doctor of Medicine)
Other Requirements3- to 8-year residency
Certification RequirementsCertification from the American Board of Pediatricians
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022), All Physicians and Surgeons*18%
Average Salary (2013)*$170,530

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for a General Pediatrician

A general pediatrician treats all types of infectious childhood diseases, including mumps, measles and chicken pox. During the course of a regular workday, a doctor deals with matters ranging from a case of acne to a child's ongoing battle with muscular dystrophy. Many of their patients have yet to develop communication skills; therefore, physicians must be able to provide a diagnosis based on visual and auditory indicators.

Most general pediatricians work in family health practices. HMOs and children's hospitals hire the majority of pediatricians, with smaller private pediatric clinics being the second largest employer.

Most pediatricians work more than full-time, usually around 60 hours per week. Those who work in hospitals or clinics should often work in shift rotations and on an on-call basis. Even general pediatricians in private practice are often called in to consult with hospital doctors when one of their regular patients is brought in as an emergency patient.

Common General Pediatrician Duties

Along with general medicine, growth and development monitoring are the basis of a pediatrician's practice. A general pediatrician must track and administer immunizations on schedule. The doctor must be able to communicate well with both children and parents. They often need to provide detailed explanations of treatment course options and assuage fears. Sympathetic bedside manners are highly valued in this particular area of medicine.

Requirements to Become a General Pediatrician

Education

The American Medical Association (AMA) considers general pediatrics to be a specialized field; however, they begin the education process with the same training as general practitioners. This process consists of four years of college, four years of medical school and, finally, a residency that lasts between 3-8 years. A sub-specialization, such as auto-immune disorders or pediatric surgery, can lengthen the residency. Upon completing medical school and a residency, the doctor must also pass the United States Medical Licensing examination in order to practice medicine.

Certification

The American Board of Medical Specialists directs general pediatricians to acquire certification through the American Board of Pediatricians (ABP). Examination requirements vary depending on sub-specializations. There are also alternate training programs that are recognized by the ABP. These qualifications can be found on their website (www.abp.org).

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

In May 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 30,890 general pediatricians employed in the United States. These professionals earned an average annual salary of $170,530, per BLS data. Overall employment of physicians and surgeons, including general pediatricians, was expected to grow 18 percent from 2012-2022, which is faster than average (www.bls.gov).

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