Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
What does a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician do?
What are the career opportunities?
What Board, if any, certifies a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician?
What is the lifestyle of a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician?
What is the compensation of a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician?
How do I become a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician?
Where do I find out about available programs?
When do I apply?
Why should I choose to become a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician?
Developmental-Behavioral pediatricians have a range of a career options within academics/research, education, and clinical practice. Often in multidisciplinary settings involving close collaboration with other professional disciplines, they evaluate, treat and manage infants, children, and adolescents with a wide range of developmental and behavioral concerns. They also evaluate and monitor progress in children at risk for developmental and behavioral disorders on the basis of biological and social factors. They research the causes and treatments of these conditions and strive to promote an understanding of the social, educational, and cultural influences on children. Through training and continuing medical education, they help to shape the work of general pediatricians and other pediatric subspecialists to provide collaborative community leadership, and to inform public policy to promote the optimal development and behavioral health of all children.
Career opportunities abound for Developmental-Behavioral pediatricians. This is a small sub-specialty, with a great demand for our services. There is increasing demand for Developmental-Behavioral pediatricians in academic settings, where they conduct important research, provide essential components of pediatric residency training and deliver clinical care to patients and their families. The increasing identification of developmental and behavioral disorders has led to high demand for fellowship trained developmental-behavioral pediatricians. There are varied opportunities in academic settings, in hospital-based or large multi-specialty clinic programs, and in community practice.
Developmental-Behavioral pediatricians receive certification through the Sub-Board of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics administered by the American Board of Pediatrics. Board certification in General Pediatrics is required prior to Sub-Board Certification.
The workload of developmental-behavioral pediatrics can support a healthy balance of professional satisfaction and a fulfilling personal life. The majority of Developmental-Behavioral pediatricians work at least 40 hours per week, but there are many options. There are opportunities to work full-time or part-time, in academic or community practice settings and in solo or group practice.
Call responsibilities are variable based on the size and scope of the practice; whether it is an academic or non-academic institution; and the role of fellows (if any) within the institution. Weekend and evening on-call responsibilities are a component of some positions, but typically involve home-call and is usually not excessive. Developmental-Behavioral pediatrics is predominantly an outpatient specialty with few, if any, inpatient duties.
Compensation is within mid-range of the pediatric subspecialists. The compensation allows a comfortable lifestyle.
To become a Developmental-Behavioral pediatrician, you must complete a three-year fellowship after your pediatric or medicine-pediatric residency. Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Fellowship programs participate in the common application through ERAS and NRMP Pediatric Specialties Fall match.
Candidates should begin the search process as soon as they have identified Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics as their career choice. Programs can be researched as described above, and can be contacted for information. The match process begins at the beginning of the third year of pediatric residency, with applications completed and any necessary interviews taking place in that summer and fall. For more details, check out this link.
A career in Developmental-Behavioral pediatrics can provide you with diagnostic challenges, collaborative research opportunities, long-term connections with the children and families you serve, and an opportunity to provide ongoing treatment for their conditions. The academic, research, and training career options are highly varied; qualified individuals will find they have a wide range of options including highly competitive and exciting academic settings. The training prepares individuals to assume leadership roles in public health, policy, and advocacy areas as well. If helping children with developmental and behavioral concerns to overcome their problems and achieve their fullest potential is your idea of a gratifying professional life, you should strongly consider Developmental-Behavioral pediatrics.
For more information regarding Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, visit these websites:
Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
AAP Section on Behavior and Developmental Pediatrics
Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (JDBP)
These individuals have offered to be available to medical students/residents to discuss their particular subspecialty. Questions could include the choice of subspecialty, lifestyle, job opportunities and the fellowship application process. This is not meant to be a long-term mentorship relationship.
Luisa Fernanda Cala Cala MD
Division of DBP
Hasbro Children’s/RI Hospital
593 Eddy St., Providence, RI 02903
401-444-4648 or 857-234-6032
Currently >50% time in direct patient care in DBP
Clinical interests: Early Childhood, Early Literacy, Learning/School difficulties, Behavior/Parenting training
Research interests: Early Literacy/ Infant Crying
Damon Korb, MD
Director, Center for Developing Minds
15951 Los Gatos Blvd. Suite 6
Los Gatos, CA 95032
Currently >80% time in direct patient care in DBP
Clinical interests: Learning difficulties, behavior, ADHD, anxiety, autism, OCD, and executive dysfunctions.
Research/Advocacy interests (If any): No research. Advocacy interests include children that struggle at school.
Stephen T Nowicki, MD, PhD
Davis Developmental Pediatrics Group, Inc
760 Fifth Street, Davis, CA 95616
Tel: 530-758-DDPG (3374)
Currently >50% time in direct patient care in DBP
Sandra Friedman, MD, MPH
University of Colorado/Children’s Hospital Colorado
Currently <50% time in direct patient care in DBP
Clinical interests: Intellectual Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Children with Special Health Care Needs, Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, Palliative Care
Desmond Kelly MD
Greenville Health System Children’s Hospital
Currently <50% time in direct patient care in DBP
Clinical interests: Learning, ADHD, ASD, Sensory Impairment; Systems of care for early ID and intervention
Research interests: Developmental screening; ASD
Robert Voigt, MD
Meyer Center for Developmental Pediatrics
Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine
Current role in provision of DBP care: >50% time in direct patient care in
Clinical interests: Developmental delay; High risk neonatal follow-up; Autism spectrum disorder; Intellectual and learning disabilities; ADHD; Cerebral palsy and disorders of motor coordination
Research interests: Nutrition and neurodevelopment; epidemiology of autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, learning disabilities, ADHD; Medical developmental assessment
Proposed Electives for a Resident Entering Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics
Below is a list of suggested (not mandatory) rotations that a resident could consider if they are planning to apply in this particular subspecialty. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive curriculum, but rather a list to create a program that fits a resident’s individual needs.
- DBP elective (in addition to general developmental-behavioral clinics that evaluate children referred due to concerns about developmental delays, learning problems, intellectual disability, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or disruptive behavior may include exposure to multidisciplinary clinics, such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome, or Fragile X syndrome)
- Child psychiatry
- Child neurology
- Pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation
- Community based primary care rotation
Experience with allied health professionals, such as psychologists, speech and language pathologists, audiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, medical social workers. In addition, advocacy experiences and experience with community-based agencies serving children and families would be worthwhile, as would experiences in day treatment centers for children with special health care needs.
1) Who qualifies to become a DBP fellow? As of 2021, there are 44 DBP fellowship training programs accredited by the ACGME in the USA. These fellows are all physicians already board certified or board eligible in pediatrics at the time of entry into fellowship training. Each year about 30-35 fellows complete their DBP fellowship education and qualify to sit for boards in DBP.
2) How long does it take to train in DBP? The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) requires 3 years of fellowship education for every ABP certified pediatric subspecialty, including DBP. Only individuals with up-to-date board certification in Pediatrics from the ABP who have successfully completed 3 years of training in an ACGME accredited DBP fellowship training program can sit for DBP boards.
3) Are there jobs available in DBP once fellowship is completed? Yes! Currently there are many more jobs recruiting DBPs than there are DBPs to fill those jobs. Positions in both academic and more clinical settings are in abundance in the field.
Pediatric Subspecialties: the need is huge, the careers are stimulating, and the rewards are amazing.
To access a recording of the 1-hour CoPS Pediatric Subspecialties Webinar Series on 1/17/22 featuring a panel discussion about careers as Developmental Behavioral Pediatricians and Pediatric Infectious Diseases Physicians, please use this Link.