5 Great Pediatric Medical Specializations

5 Specializations in Pediatric Medicine

  • Hospitalist
  • Child Abuse Pediatrician
  • Hematology/ Oncology
  • Neonatalists
  • Emergency Pediatric Medicine

Pediatric medical specialists receive extra training to treat patients with complex issues. Pediatric specialists work in many of the same fields as adult practitioners, like dermatology and gastroenterology. Some fields, like neonatalogy and development psychiatry, are found exclusively in children’s medicine. Pediatricians need clinical knowledge and good bedside manner as they help patients who may struggle to clearly express their symptoms. Here are five of the best specializations for pediatricians.

1. Hospitalist

This pediatric specialty doesn’t require a fellowship, so doctors can start working after completing their three-year residency. Hospitalists work entirely for a hospital, primarily managing acute conditions in a variety of units. Pediatric hospitalists might spend part of a shift in the emergency room before rounding in the critical care unit and finishing in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This is a good match for doctors who want a fast-paced environment and the corporate feel of most hospitals. However, hospitalists rarely develop close relationships with patients because they never serve as a primary care provider. Physicians who want to work with patients for years should look to another specialty.

2. Child Abuse Pediatrician

For doctors with iron stomachs, specializing in child abuse brings a strong sense of purpose to the workday. These heroes complete a three-year fellowship to learn about chronic and acute symptoms of child abuse and how to differentiate normal injuries from those caused by abuse. Child abuse physicians work closely with social workers and lawyers. Many split their time between academic roles training other healthcare providers and services to the state. They may also work directly with parents to teach appropriate discipline methods.

3. Hematology/ Oncology

Pediatric oncologists diagnose patients with cancer and blood disorders. Because these are chronic diseases with long-term case management needs, these pediatricians can develop meaningful relationships with patients and their families. This specialization requires high levels of emotional intelligence and resiliency as many patients are unable to recover from their illnesses and may pass away. Some oncologists further specialize in particular types of cancer or organs. Doctors can earn a board certification from the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/ Oncology (ASPHO).

4. Neonatalists

In high-risk pregnancies, obstetricians treat the mother. Neonatalists monitor the fetus before birth and treat the infant during the critical first days of life. These physicians must treat problems affecting many different organs while working with limited treatment options. Most work in the NICU section of hospitals, although a few work for universities as researchers or in the regular nursery units of large hospitals, where they treat infants who are ill but not critically so.

5. Emergency Pediatric Medicine

Emergency medical doctors must diagnose and treat a wide spectrum of illnesses ranging from trauma to internal medical emergencies. Most work at children’s hospitals, although some are employed by large general hospitals with a steady stream of young patients. This is a fast and exciting pediatric specialty that combines several fields of knowledge. A typical day can instantly switch between stitching a small cut to running a code blue on a trauma patient.

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Not every pediatrician specializes. Many open individual or small practices where they give vaccines, treat minor illnesses and help children without serious issues become healthy adults. As long as the patients and the provider are happy, any sub-field can become the best pediatric specialization.