Types of Pediatric Specialist Physicians

Subspecialties Develop Pediatrician Skills

There are many types of physicians who specialize in a variety of pediatric conditions. In addition to working as a general pediatrician, physicians who want to work with children have many options for pediatric subspecialties from which to choose.

If your child requires specialized care, you can search for a pediatrician in an appropriate subspecialty. Your pediatrician can provide a referral or you may check your pediatrician's certifications at the American Board of Pediatrics website.

How to Become a Pediatric Specialist Physician

Smiling doctor holding baby

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To become a pediatrician specialist, one must first complete the requirements to become a pediatrician. Then, after those requirements are met and the medical residency training in general pediatrics has been successfully completed, a prospective pediatric subspecialist must complete an additional fellowship training program in the specialty area in which he or she wishes to practice. The pediatric subspecialty fellowship training is usually three years in length.

The American Board of Pediatrics (ABM) offers these subspecialty certifications:

  • Adolescent Medicine
  • Pediatric Cardiology
  • Child Abuse Pediatrics
  • Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
  • Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics
  • Pediatric Emergency Medicine
  • Pediatric Endocrinology
  • Pediatric Gastroenterology
  • Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
  • Pediatric Hospital Medicine
  • Pediatric Infectious Diseases
  • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
  • Pediatric Nephrology
  • Pediatric Pulmonology
  • Pediatric Rheumatology

ABM co-sponsors these subspecialty disciplines with other American Board of Medical Specialties boards:

  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • Medical Toxicology
  • Sleep Medicine
  • Sports Medicine
  • Pediatric Transplant Hepatology

General pediatricians usually end up at the bottom of the listings for physician compensation. For example, according to the 2019 Doximity physician compensation report, non-specialist pediatricians were paid an average of $222,942, while those in subspecialties earn far more. This can be an incentive for a pediatrician to be certified as a specialist. The listings below are some of the higher-paying subspecialties.

Pediatric Gastroenterology

Pediatric gastroenterologists (Ped GI) treat conditions, diseases, and disorders of the stomach and digestive system of children. Ped GI doctors see patients in an office setting, but also do procedures such as a variety of scopes (endoscopy, etc) in a hospital or surgery center.

Pediatric gastroenterologists are medical doctors who have had three years of additional training in pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition, including medical research and treatment of infants, children, and teens with digestive, liver, and nutritional disorders.

Pediatric Critical Care/Intensivist

Pediatric critical care (Ped CC) specialists treat children who are in critical condition. Ped CC physicians typically work in a hospital setting and care for young patients who are in the ICU (intensive care unit). These physicians must be able to handle dealing with very sick children who may be near death due to serious illness, trauma, or accident.

Pediatric critical care specialists generally provide the following care to children who are critically ill:

  • Diagnosis of children who have an unstable, life-threatening condition
  • Thorough monitoring, medication, and treatment of children in a PICU
  • Supervision of children on respirators
  • Medical treatment for children with severe heart and lung disease
  • Placement of special catheters in the blood vessels and heart
  • Management of medications and treatments for children with brain trauma

Pediatric Cardiology

Pediatric cardiologists treat diseases and conditions of the heart and cardiovascular system in children. ​​Evaluation and treatment may begin with the fetus since heart problems can be detected before birth.

They may work in an office setting primarily, but may also do procedures in a hospital.

Pediatric Neurology

Pediatric neurologists treat conditions and diseases of the brain and neurological system in children. They may treat young patients who have experienced seizures, severe headaches, or suffer from epilepsy, Tourette's syndrome, autism, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, sleep disorders, or many other neurological issues.

Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Pediatric emergency medicine specialists treat patients in a hospital emergency department. They would treat a variety of emergency situations such as falls, accidents, car accidents, accidental poisonings, broken bones, food poisoning, etc.

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Article Sources

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  1. American Board of Pediatrics. Subspecialty certifications & admission requirements.

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. What is a pediatric critical care specialist? Updated August 21, 2019.

  3. Oster ME, Kochilas L. Screening for critical congenital heart disease. Clin Perinatol. 2016;43(1):73-80. doi:10.1016/j.clp.2015.11.005