Family Practice Doctor Vs. Pediatrician

Jan 28, 2018

Family practice doctors and pediatricians are medical doctors with comparable amounts of training but they focus on working with patients from different age groups. Read on to learn more about how these occupations compare.

Comparing Family Practice Doctors to Pediatricians

Family practice doctors and pediatricians perform many similar duties and often work similar hours in similar settings. The key distinction is that family practice doctors can treat patients of any age while pediatricians are specifically trained to treat children. Family practice doctors typically earn higher salaries, although job prospects are a bit better for pediatricians.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2018)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)**
Family Practice Doctors Medical degree, residency, license $173,112 16% (family and general practitioners)
Pediatricians Medical degree, residency, license $147,449 18%

Sources: *PayScale; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Family Practice Doctors vs. Pediatricians

Family practice doctors and pediatricians both see patients and are responsible for many comparable tasks, such as ordering medical tests, prescribing medications and providing patients with a diagnosis. Although family practice doctors do treat infants, children and teenagers, pediatricians specialize in caring for patients who are 21 years of age or younger. Pediatricians often give patients vaccinations and part of their focus is preventative care. While family practice doctors may be more likely to see patients when they are ill, pediatricians regularly see their patients to ensure that they are meeting age-appropriate developmental milestones. Pediatricians also focus on more than just medical issues and monitor things like the emotional health of the children they treat. Both family practice doctors and pediatricians may determine when patients should see specialists and provide them with referrals.

Family Practice Doctors

Family practice doctors can work with patients of any age. They are responsible for providing primary medical care to their patients. It's common for family practice doctors to work in medical offices or clinics, although they may also spend part of their time working in hospitals. Some travel may be required if they need to check on patients who are unable to see them in their office. They also provide on call services so their hours can extend into the evening and overnight at times. They need strong interpersonal skills and communication skills so that they can effectively interact with all of their patients.

Job responsibilities of a family practice doctor include:

  • Assessing patients
  • Reviewing patient histories
  • Referring patients for medical tests
  • Processing test results
  • Providing patients with healthcare information
  • Referring patients to specialists


Pediatricians provide children with health care. They usually work in a clinic or medical practice with other medical professionals, although they may have their own practice. It's normal for pediatricians to work overtime, although they primarily work day, evening and some weekend shifts. They need to be patient because of the unique challenges of treating children, especially if the child is afraid of doctors or needles. They also need communication skills and the ability to interact with their patients as well as their patients' parents. Pediatricians can opt to pursue further studies to specialize and work with children with specific health problems.

Job responsibilities of a pediatrician include:

  • Performing physical examinations
  • Immunizing patients
  • Writing prescriptions
  • Educating parents on health concerns
  • Ordering medical tests
  • Determining if a child needs to see a specialist

Related Careers

Another career option for potential family practice doctors to consider is becoming an emergency medicine doctor because these doctors also treat patients. Those thinking about a career as a pediatrician may opt to specialize in a specific area of pediatric care and become a pediatric oncologist.

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