Pediatrics is a medical specialty focused on the health and well-being of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults (up to age 21 years). Physicians who practice pediatrics are called pediatricians.

Pediatricians divide into two main groups:

  • General pediatricians devote their clinical practice to the broad scope of pediatrics rather than one area within the medical specialty. Most general pediatricians practice in outpatient settings, where they serve as primary care providers for children. Pediatric hospitalists are general pediatricians who practice primarily in hospitals, providing care for children who require hospitalization.
  • Pediatric subspecialists are pediatricians who have done further training to become experts in one area of pediatrics. Their practice may focus on a specific part of the body (such as the heart or the lungs), one type of disease (such as infections or cancer), or a certain age-group (such as newborns or teenagers).

General (outpatient) pediatricians play a critical role in the routine care of young people. Their aim is to prevent, detect, and manage any physical, emotional, social, or developmental issue that may arise from birth to adulthood. General pediatricians are responsible for:

  • Performing age-appropriate health screening
  • Diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illnesses, injuries, and other disorders that affect children
  • Ensuring that children are achieving developmental milestones
  • Performing evaluations to detect developmental or behavioral disorders (e.g., autism spectrum disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and developing care plans to address these problems
  • Educating parents/caregivers about well-child care, including immunizations, and counseling parents/caregivers about all aspects of their child's health
  • Working with parents/caregivers to foster healthy lifestyles
  • Advocating for the welfare of children, educating those involved in the care of children, and effectively communicating with parents/caregivers, other physicians, teachers, and social workers on issues of child welfare

Although general pediatricians have knowledge about the full scope of problems that can affect children, sometimes it is necessary to seek additional help with diagnosing or treating more complex conditions. In this case, a general pediatrician may refer the patient to a pediatric subspecialist. Some pediatric subspecialty areas include:

  • Adolescent medicine
  • Pediatric cardiology
  • Pediatric critical care medicine
  • Pediatric hematology-oncology
  • Pediatric infectious diseases
  • Pediatric nephrology
  • Pediatric pulmonology
  • Pediatric rheumatology

If a child is treated by a pediatric subspecialist or is hospitalized and cared for by a hospitalist, the general pediatrician remains a vital part of the care team.

Outpatient Pediatrics and Chester County Hospital

For more information about outpatient pediatricians on the Medical Staff at Chester County Hospital, call our Physician Referral Service at 800-789-PENN (7366) or visit the Find a Doctor section of our website.

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