What is a Pediatric Subspecialist?

Each of our members employs pediatric specialists, who are the only physicians uniquely qualified to treat children with complex, chronic conditions. The specialized treatment they provide is far different from the primary care provided by general pediatricians, who concentrate on colds, fevers, and other common illnesses and injuries.

The unique developmental and emotional needs of children and adolescents are significantly different from those of adults, and require a high degree of specialization and individualized care. The view that adult specialists are an acceptable alternative is flawed. There are distinct characteristics of pediatric care, as well as physiological and cognitive difference between children and adults.

The skilled care provided by pediatric specialists has consistently demonstrated reductions in length of hospital stay, the number of readmissions, and therefore reduces costs. Additionally, research has shown improvements in overall quality of life and survival rates for children with rare, serious, and chronic health conditions.

What are the different pediatric subspecialties?


Pediatric subspecialty areas are:

  • Adolescent Medicine
  • Child Abuse Pediatrics
  • Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics
  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • Medical Toxicology
  • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
  • Cardiology
  • Critical Care Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology-Oncology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Nephrology
  • Pulmonology
  • Rheumatology
  • Surgery
  • Transplant Hepatology
  • Sleep Medicine
  • Sports Medicine

For more information on what each subspecialty is, visit the American Board of Pediatrics.

What kind of training is required of a pediatric specialist?

Pediatric specialists have a commitment to treat children with special health care needs and have the advanced training and experience necessary to treat children’s complex medical and surgical conditions.

  • Four years of medical school
  • Three years of training in pediatrics
  • Additional three years of training in the area of their specialty
  • Three to eight years of residency
  • Graduate level education in their medical specialty in the form of on-the-job training in a hospital setting
  • Board certification

Pediatric surgeons undergo additional:

  • Five years of general surgery training
  • Two years training in pediatric surgery
  • Board certification

Additional Resources:

UCLA Center for Health Policy Research: Assuring Children’s Access to Pediatric Subspecialty Care in California

PEDIATRICS: Current Workforce of Pediatric Subspecialists in the United States