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Difference Between Pediatrician & Pediatric Surgeon

Pediatricians and pediatric surgeons are doctors who have specialized in the health care of children. The differences and similarities between these two professionals are discussed in this article.

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Comparing Pediatricians to Pediatric Surgeons

Pediatricians are doctors who specialize in the health care of babies and children. Pediatric surgeons specialize in the surgical needs of the youngest among us. Below is a comparison of these two positions including salary and job growth information.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Pediatrician Doctoral degree $168,990* (2016) 9% - 13%
Pediatric Surgeon Doctoral degree $261,590** (2017) 14% (for all Surgeons)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

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Responsibilities of Pediatricians vs. Pediatric Surgeons

Pediatricians and pediatric surgeons both specialize in children from babies to adolescents. These experts utilize the latest in technology and diagnostic testing to keep children healthy and help them if they do become ill. Pediatric surgeons, in collaboration with pediatricians and other physicians, have devoted their studies and expertise to performing surgery, while pediatricians tend to treat children in offices for wellness visits and in case of emergencies or sickness.

Pediatrician

Pediatricians are general practitioners for children. They typically see their patients in medical offices, where they perform exams, and order labs, x-rays or other tests to check for health problems. Pediatricians encourage healthy lifestyles for their young patients, recommending diet and exercise tips as well as performing scheduled yearly visits and administering vaccinations. At times, they will consult with and refer to other specialists, for example if a child has a diagnosis of a serious illness or injury.

Job responsibilities of a Pediatrician include:

  • Promoting a child's health through proper nutrition and parental care
  • Listening closely to their patient's pain description for diagnostic clues
  • Administering medications to alleviate pain or prevent illness
  • Helping young patients maintain emotional and physical wellbeing

Pediatric Surgeon

Pediatric surgeons operate on children from newborns to young adults. They collaborate and consult with pediatricians and other physicians before and after surgery. Their work can include surgery on a physical injury or a type of birth defect. Pediatric surgeons examine patients to check for their surgical needs, and understand the unique differences of operating on children versus adults. These surgeons typically work in hospitals and may work long hours for emergencies or involved procedures.

Job responsibilities of a Pediatric Surgeon include:

  • Interpreting various physical exams and MRI imaging
  • Keeping patients and parents informed of surgical expectations
  • Monitoring a patient's health throughout and after the procedure
  • Performing surgical procedures and determining outcomes

Related Careers

Pediatricians work extensively with young children and their parents, and those interested in this type of work may consider a career as an OB/GYN. These doctors work with women's reproductive health and family planning, as well as childbirth. Those interested in pediatric surgery may also consider a different specialty of surgery, such as cardiology. Cardiac surgeons operate on patients' hearts to treat and repair congenital heart conditions.

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