Founded in 1933, the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) is one of the 24 certifying boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The ABP is an independent, nonprofit organization whose certificate is recognized throughout the world as a credential signifying a high level of physician competence.
The Board of Directors of the ABP consists of distinguished pediatricians — in education, research, and clinical practice — and nonphysicians who have a professional interest in the health and welfare of children and adolescents. The ABP strives to improve training, establishes the requirements for certification, and sets the standards for its examinations.
Certification by the ABP has one objective — to promote excellence in medical care for children and adolescents. Certification represents dedication to the highest level of professionalism in patient care. ABP certification provides a standard of excellence by which the public can select pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists. Although ABP certification is voluntary, nearly all qualified pediatricians seek this recognition.
The ABP currently awards certificates in General Pediatrics and in the following pediatric subspecialty areas:
- Adolescent Medicine
- Child Abuse Pediatrics
- Critical Care Medicine
- Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics
- Emergency Medicine
- Hospital Medicine
- Infectious Diseases
- Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
Certificates are awarded in conjunction with other specialty boards in the areas of:
- Hospice and Palliative Medicine
- Medical Toxicology
- Pediatric Transplant Hepatology
- Sleep Medicine
- Sports Medicine
Additionally, from 2001-2007, the ABP awarded certificates in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.
What is Pediatrics?
Pediatricians practice the specialty of medical science concerned with the physical, emotional, and social health of children from birth to young adulthood. Pediatric care encompasses a broad spectrum of health services ranging from preventive health care to the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic diseases.
Pediatricians understand the many factors that affect the growth and development of children. They understand that children are not simply small adults. Children change rapidly, and they must be approached with an appreciation for their stage of physical and mental development.
Because the welfare of children and adolescents is heavily dependent on the home and family, the pediatrician supports efforts to create a nurturing environment. Such support includes education about healthful living and guidance for both patients and parents. Pediatricians participate in the community to prevent or solve problems in child and adolescent health care, and they serve as advocates for children and adolescents.
Pediatricians are therefore primarily concerned with the health, welfare, and development of children and adolescents. They are uniquely qualified to provide care for children because of their specialized training and concern for their well-being. Pediatricians achieve their competency through training, experience, and continuing education.
Some pediatricians choose to focus their practice in one area of pediatrics. These physicians pursue additional training in a subspecialty. For example, pediatric cardiologists are pediatricians who subspecialize in diseases of the heart.
Most board-certified pediatricians are members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Physicians who have attained full membership are called "fellows" of the AAP and are entitled to use this designation in all formal communications such as certificates, publications, business cards, stationery, and signage. Thus, "John Doe, MD, FAAP" is a fellow of the AAP. Being a fellow of the AAP and being ABP board-certified are two different designations.