Pulmonary Medicine

Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine

What does a Pediatric Pulmonologist do?
What are the career opportunities?
What Board, if any, certifies a Pediatric Pulmonologist?
What is the lifestyle of a Pediatric Pulmonologist?
What is the compensation of a Pediatric Pulmonologist?
How do I become a Pediatric Pulmonologist?
Where do I find out about available programs?
When do I apply?
Why should I choose to become a Pediatric Pulmonologist?
Faculty Contacts
Proposed Electives

What does a Pediatric Pulmonologist do? 

A Pediatric Pulmonologist provides comprehensive evaluation and management for children with respiratory disorders, including chronic/recurrent cough or wheezing, asthma, pneumonia, pleural effusions, apnea, sleep-disordered breathing, hypoventilation syndromes, chronic lung disease, chronic respiratory failure, congenital lung malformations, lung transplantation and interstitial lung disease. Many pulmonologists specialize in the care of patients with cystic fibrosis. Pediatric lung disease specialists may also specialize in sleep medicine. By virtue of training, experience, and curiosity, the pediatric pulmonologist is intimately involved in research, teaching, and public policy/advocacy. Pediatric pulmonology procedures include flexible fiberoptic bronchoscopy, bronchoalveolar lavage, transbronchial and mucosal biopsies, and interpretation of pulmonary function studies and polysomnograms.

What are the career opportunities? 

Currently there are more positions available for Pediatric Pulmonologists than there are Pediatric Pulmonologists. These include jobs in academic institutions, private practices, research institutes, and government and private agencies. Opportunities for leadership roles abound in cystic fibrosis, chronic ventilation, asthma, pulmonary physiology, pathology, and pharmacology, sleep medicine, medical education, research and the pharmaceutical industry, to name a few.

What Board, if any, certifies a Pediatric Pulmonologist?
The American Board of Pediatrics offers sub-board certification in Pediatric Pulmonology. The candidate must be board certified in Pediatrics to qualify for certification in Pediatric Pulmonology, and, with a few exceptions, complete a three-  year fellowship in an accredited program.

What is the lifestyle of a Pediatric Pulmonologist?

For those who work within an academic setting, duties are divided between patient care, teaching, research, and administration. The specific allocation of time depends on the interests of the Pediatric Pulmonologist and the needs of the institution. Some pulmonologists maintain a general clinical practice, while others develop a niche in caring for a subset of patients (e.g. patients with cystic fibrosis, chronic respiratory failure, asthma, interstitial lung disease, or sleep-disordered breathing). Because of the chronic nature of many pulmonary disorders, the Pulmonologist has an opportunity to develop longstanding relationships with patients and their families. In general, most pediatric pulmonologists participate in both inpatient and outpatient care of patients as well as perform flexible bronchoscopies during their clinical time.  Pediatric pulmonology clinical service does not typically require in hospital overnight call. Night and weekend call are taken at home. Most academic pediatric pulmonary divisions are group practices. There are a small number of private practice opportunities for pediatric pulmonologists. Some of these practices may have hospital affiliations as part of their practice.

What is the compensation of a Pediatric Pulmonologist? 

The median salary for pediatric pulmonologists lies in the middle tier for pediatric subspecialists. Compensation will vary, depending on the location and type of practice.

How do I become a Pediatric Pulmonologist?
Qualification for training in pediatric pulmonology requires a medical degree from a certified school of medicine or osteopathy and board certification in Pediatrics. Most pediatric pulmonology fellowship training programs participate in ERAS Fellowships and the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) Match.

Where do I find out about available programs?
The following web sites will provide the names of accredited pediatric pulmonology fellowship training programs: Freida, Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and ERAS Fellowships.

When do I apply?

Pediatric Pulmonology fellowships utilize ERAS for the application and most now participate in the NRMP Pediatric Specialties Fall match. Applicants can begin to populate their ERAS application early in July, and programs can begin to review interested applicants shortly thereafter. Most interviews occur during the months of July through October. Rank lists are typically due in November/December with the match date occurring 2 weeks later. Note that applicants match 7 months prior to their start date so the majority of applicants are in their 3nd year of residency when they apply and interview.

Why should I choose to become a Pediatric Pulmonologist?

Practitioners often cite the mix of acute and chronic disease, ability to form relationships with patients and families, and the integration of physiology with basic science principles in the approach to disease management as reasons for choosing pediatric pulmonology as a specialty. Others have been drawn by an interest in a particular disease (i.e. cystic fibrosis, asthma) or intervention (mechanical ventilation, bronchoscopy). The Pediatric Pulmonologist is in demand from every specialty, because so many illnesses ultimately result in respiratory involvement. Many have chosen pediatric pulmonology because of a desire to improve the lives of children with specific illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, asthma, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, or chronic respiratory failure due to neuromuscular diseases, to name a few.

For more information about Pediatric Pulmonology, visit these websites:

ERAS Fellowships
American Thoracic Society
American College of Chest Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Pediatric Pulmonary
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

List of relevant subspecialty journals

Pediatric Pulmonology
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology
ATS Scholar 

Proposed Electives for a Resident Entering Pulmonary Medicine

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.

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Gastroenterology
  • Allergy/Immunology
  • Respiratory Care rotation
  • Cardiology
  • Pediatric intensive care
  • ENT
  • Pathology (with emphasis on lung pathology)
  • Radiology
  • Anesthesia
  • Asthma elective, if available
  • Sleep

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 7/19/21 featuring a panel discussion about careers in Pediatric Pulmonology, please use this link.

Return to Subspecialty Descriptions