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Pediatrics or paediatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the medical care of infants, children, andadolescents. A medical practitioner who specializes in this area is known as a pediatrician or paediatrician. The word pediatrics and its cognates mean healer of children; they derive from two Greek words: παῖς (pais = child) and ἰατρός (iatros = doctor or healer).
There may be other differences in spelling: in the USA, a pediatrician (US spelling) is often a primary care physician who specializes in children, whereas in the Commonwealth a paediatrician (British spelling) generally is a medical specialist not in primary general practice.
The training of pediatricians varies considerably across the world.
Depending on jurisdiction and university, a medical degree course may be either undergraduate-entry or graduate-entry. The former commonly takes five or six years, and has been usual in the Commonwealth. Entrants to graduate-entry courses (as in the USA), usually lasting four or five years, have previously completed a three- or four-year university degree, commonly but by no means always in sciences. Medical graduates hold a degree specific to the country and university in and from which they graduated. This degree qualifies that medical practitioner to become licensed or registered under the laws of that particular country, and sometimes of several countries, subject to requirements for "internship" or "conditional registration".
Pediatricians must undertake further training in their chosen field. This may take from four to eight or more years, (depending on jurisdiction and the degree of specialization). The post-graduate training for a primary care physician, including primary care pediatricians, is generally not as lengthy as for a hospital-basedmedical specialist.
In most jurisdictions, entry-level degrees are common to all branches of the medical profession, but in some jurisdictions, specialization in pediatrics may begin before completion of this degree. In some jurisdictions, pediatric training is begun immediately following completion of entry-level training. In other jurisdictions, junior medical doctors must undertake generalist (unstreamed) training for a number of years before commencing pediatric (or any other) specialization. Specialist training is often largely under the control of pediatric organizations (see below) rather than universities, with varying degrees of government input, depending on jurisdiction.