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A pediatrician is a physician who takes care of children from birth to age 21, and impacts the health of children all the way into their adult lives. Supervising the health of children requires specialized medical training - becoming a pediatrician requires four years of university, four years of medical school, and at least three years of an internship and residency.
Pediatricians may advise parents on the best way to care for their first baby, diagnose childhood diseases, and recognize early symptoms of a variety of disorders. Regardless of what children ail from, they need to be assessed and treated in a way that is appropriate to their age and weight.
How long does it take to become a Pediatrician?
The training for a pediatrician takes approximately 11 years after completing high school, depending on the university and jurisdiction and the degree of specialization required, as they vary considerably across the world.
Typically, after high school, students will need four years of undergraduate courses in a college or university, majoring in biology or another science-related major. The course major need not necessarily be science-related, so long as the pre-med course requirements such as calculus, organic chemistry, biochemistry, biology, chemistry and physics are completed. There is also a medical college admission test to pass along with a certain level of school grades to be attained in order to qualify and get accepted by a medical school.
Four more years will be required working towards a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) degree. However, a few schools offer combined undergraduate and medical school programs that last six rather than the customary eight years. The first two years of medical school mainly consist of classroom and laboratory learning, while the last two years involve first-hand clinical experience under the supervision and guidance of licensed professionals. After medical school, the next step would be to complete a one-year pediatric internship, which includes hands-on training and experience in baby care.
After a successful internship, students are required to take a two-year residency program to obtain further knowledge and experience in the field. Once this phase is completed, they are now ready to take the general pediatrics certification program which is necessary for obtaining a license. After getting board certified, they can commence their work as a licensed pediatrician.
Most pediatricians at this stage choose to continue their education in pediatric sub-specialties such as adolescent medicine, developmental disorders, gastroenterology, infectious disease, nephrology, oncology, cardiology, endocrinology, etc.
Steps to becoming a Pediatrician
1 Bachelor's Degree
Students must earn an undergraduate/bachelor's degree in order to apply to medical school. Some students may enter a pre-med program to become a pediatrician, however others get prerequisites by taking courses such as physics, biology, and chemistry (inorganic and organic). Students who have a clear goal to become a pediatrician may choose to major in child psychology or another discipline closely associated with pediatrics.
2 MCAT & Medical School Application
Applying to medical school and earning a doctor of medicine (M.D.) degree is a requirement to becoming a pediatrician. When students apply to medical school, they first need to take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test ) first and send their scores and application to the school. A student generally takes the exam during his or her third year of undergraduate studies.
3 Medical School
Medical school generally takes four years to complete. During this time, students are exposed to specialties such as internal medicine, family practice, cardiology, gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery. The first two years of medical school include anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, and medical ethics. The last two years are spent learning how to care for patients (in a hospital or clinic), under the supervision of experienced physicians.
These schools are in the top five ranking pediatrics schools according to PediatricsSchools.com:
University of Colorado School of Medicine - Aurora, Colorado
Baylor College of Medicine - Houston, Texas
Case Western Reserve University - Cleveland, Ohio
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine - Baltimore, Maryland
Vanderbilt University - Nashville, Tennessee
Once a student has completed medical school, they are considered a doctor. However, in order to become a pediatrician, one still needs to complete a three-year residency in an approved program to further learn about treating children. This takes place under the supervision of experienced pediatricians.
5 Fellowship (Optional)
A doctor who wishes to specialize in a sub-field of pediatrics (such as pediatric cardiology, oncology or neurology, amongst others) will pursue a fellowship program. Depending on the sub-specialty, training lasts two to three years.
All doctors in the United States need to obtain a license in order to practice in the state of their choice. Requirements vary on a state-to-state basis, however all include taking and passing a two-part examination.
7 Board Certification (Optional)
Pediatricians can become board-certified in a sub-specialty, which means fulfilling a separate certification process and taking another exam associated with that specific area of pediatrics.
Should I become a Pediatrician?
If you're interested in practicing medicine and you love being around kids, a pediatrician career may be the perfect choice for you. Ultimately, the best way to decide if a pediatrician career is right for you is to find a pediatrician who'll allow you to follow him or her around at their practice or as they do their hospital rounds to get a true idea of what a typical day is like.
Here are some pros and cons to consider while you're mulling over the idea of becoming a pediatrician:
- Becoming a pediatrician gives one the opportunity to prevent and treat illnesses in children in particular. If you love children, you can play a major role in helping them live long, healthy lives. Pediatricians, particularly in office settings, get a chance to build bonds with kids and their parents through routine visits during the first few years of their life. Seeing a child recover from an illness based on your care is very rewarding.
Making a Comfortable Salary
- The average yearly salary for pediatricians in the United States is around $184,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pediatrics is the lowest-paying medical specialty, however, pediatricians have relatively low malpractice costs.
- Pediatricians can start up their own practice and be their own boss or they can join a group of doctors and share responsibilities. If running a business is something you don't want anything to do with, you can work for a practice that has office staff who will take care of all the business details.
Choices in the Field
- Pediatricians can choose to focus on certain pediatric specialties, such as adolescent medicine, child abuse pediatrics, developmental- behavioral pediatrics, diagnostic laboratory immunology, medical toxicology, neonatal-perinatal medicine, neurodevelopmental disabilities, or pediatric cardiology. Pediatric specialists have taken more extensive training in their area of practice.
- The job prospects for anyone wanting to become a pediatrician are quite good, as the population is growing and as such there are children who need to be seen by doctors that are specialized. The demand for pediatric care is very high, and for pediatricians entering into the workforce over the next decade, they can expect available work and many opportunities in this field.
- There are many job opportunities that are related to the health and well-being of children. Advancement opportunities are available in areas such as pediatric surgery, pediatric allergy, and pediatric endocrinology. Some of the highest paying would include entering into pediatric cardiology, oncology or neurology.
Length of Education & Costs
- Becoming a pediatrician requires four years of university, four years of medical school, and at least three years of an internship and residency. You can expect to pay anywhere from $40,000 to $160,000 for four years of university (smaller schools are generally less expensive than major state universities such as Harvard and Yale). You can expect to pay anywhere from $100,000 to $160,000 total for four years of medical school. Residency does provide some income, between $40,000 and $55,000 per year. Should you decide to participate in a fellowship following your residency, you can also expect to earn a moderate salary during that time.
- The average pediatrician works approximately 50 hours per week. This includes time spent in the office, visiting patients in the hospital, doing paperwork and being on call. Most pediatricians make themselves available to their patients after regular office hours, which often means nights and weekends. A doctor by himself (often small-town pediatricians) are usually on call everyday, however doctors in a group office setting would be on call much less often. In larger clinics and hospitals, pediatricians work in rotations, which include night, evening, weekend and holiday shifts. These types of schedules make it sometimes difficult to balance work and family life effectively.
Pressure of the Job
The rising costs of lawsuits and medical malpractice insurance has increased the pressure on medical professionals to perform accurately. There is also added pressure as a result of appeasing parents; parents are often insistent on the types of treatment they want, putting pediatricians in possible conflict with what they believe is proper care.
What are Pediatricians like?
Based on our pool of users, pediatricians tend to be predominately social people. Take our career test to see what career interest category best describes you.
Pediatricians by Strongest Interest Archetype
Based on sample of 75 Sokanu users
Are Pediatricians happy?
Working with children can be rewarding, challenging, exciting, and mentally stimulating. The clinical aspect is fascinating and one needs to be competent at dealing with severe life threatening emergencies as well as chronic lifelong conditions. It is a speciality that demands excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
Pediatricians are teachers first and foremost. They teach kids how to live healthy lives and help parents learn the latest ways to get their kids to succeed and live well. Pediatricians get to be professional and serious when discussing things with parents, but can also flip into child-friendly play mode when examining and getting to know a child.
It is important to have work-life balance as this career can be mentally and physically draining. Like any speciality in medicine, pediatrics has it's ups and downs, however for most pediatricians the ups definitely outweigh the downs.
Pediatrician Career Satisfaction by Dimension
Percentile among all careers
How to Become a Pediatrician
Compare Pediatrics Medical Schools
Compare Pediatrics Medical Schools in the USA
Education Needed For Becoming A Pediatrician
Becoming a pediatrician typically takes at least 11 years of training and education.
Becoming A Pediatrician: THE BOTTOM LINE!
An outline of educational requirements, our personal recommendations, and personal characteristics required to become a pediatrician.