Pediatric clinical practice involves the care of infants, children, and adolescents with the goal of optimizing their health, growth, and development toward adulthood. Clinicians serve as advocates for this unique and vulnerable patient population to maximize their well-being.

There is a continued need for pediatric health care resources, evidenced by the annual increase in the number of infants born in the United States.1 Ambulatory care settings, such as the pediatrician office and emergency department as well as hospitals, require the expertise of knowledgeable clinicians with pediatric experience. In fact, national data have noted the lack of appropriate services and supplies for pedi-atric patients at many institutions. Pediatric care accounts for a considerable amount of total patient care annually. For example, patients less than 15 years of age accounted for 16.7% of physician office visits in the United States during 1995 to 2005, with 60% of the drugs used during the 2005 visits being new drug therapies. The overall inpatient hospitalization rate of patients less than 20 years of age was 10.8%, with an average length of stay between 3.8 and 4.5 days, similar to the overall U.S. national average length of stay of 4.8 days for all pediatric and adult patients.4

Despite the common misconception of pediatric patients as "smaller adults," they significantly differ within their age groups and from adults regarding drug administration, psychosocial development, and organ function development, which affect efficacy and safety of pharmacotherapy.

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