Becoming a Pediatrician: A Guide

How To Become a Pediatrician

How To Become a Pediatrician

Share on FacebookShare on Twitter Explore the Path to Becoming a Pediatrician (also referred to as a pediatric doctor) to discover how to choose a career as a pediatrician, delve into the necessary professional skills and pediatric doctor schooling, uncover information regarding licensure and certification, and gain insight into experience requirements. Professionals in the field of pediatrics, commonly known as pediatric doctors, specialize in the treatment of children's ailments and health issues.

For instance, they attend to conditions such as strep throat, pink eye, colds, and chickenpox, among other maladies. Pediatricians also play a role in maintaining the well-being of healthy children. This includes administering immunizations, monitoring patients' growth and weight, and offering guidance on social, mental, and emotional health. Pediatricians may practice in clinics, hospitals, or as independent practitioners.

Primarily, pediatric doctors work in medical office settings, although they may be required to make house calls or visit hospitals in special cases. Typically, pediatric doctors work full-time, although some instances may necessitate longer hours. The rewards of caring for children are immense, and these medical professionals generally receive competitive remuneration.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pediatricians had a median annual salary of $127,610 as of May 2019 and are projected to experience a slight decline in job opportunities, approximately 2%, from 2019 to 2029. However, it should be noted that working as a pediatrician can be demanding. Effective verbal and written communication skills, problem-solving abilities, empathy, and proficiency in medical software for managing patient records are all necessary qualities for pediatricians.

Requirements to Become a Pediatric Doctor

  • Academic Level: Completion of a Bachelor's degree followed by a M.D. or O.D.
  • Academic Field(s): Major in Biological Science or Pre-Med
  • Licensure/Certification: All states require licensure; board certification is available
  • Experience: Completion of a 3-6 year residency program, depending on the chosen specialty
  • Key Skills: Proficiency in verbal and written communication, problem-solving, empathy, and medical software for managing patient records

Work Environment for Pediatric Doctors

Pediatricians primarily work in medical offices, but they may also be required to travel to patients' homes or hospitals for unique cases. Most pediatricians have full-time positions, although occasional overtime may be necessary. The benefits of caring for children are numerous, and pediatricians typically enjoy favorable compensation.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that pediatricians earned a median yearly salary of $127,610 in May 2019. It is projected that the job market for pediatricians will decline by approximately 2% from 2019 to 2029. Working as a pediatrician requires strong communication skills, both written and verbal, as well as problem-solving abilities. Additionally, pediatricians should possess empathy and be familiar with medical software for maintaining patients' records.

The Path to Becoming a Pediatrician

If you're wondering how long it takes to become a pediatrician, the process typically involves eight years of schooling and completion of a medical residency program. Let's take a closer look at the educational requirements and steps needed to climb the pediatrician career ladder.

  • Attain a bachelor's degree
  • Earn a medical degree
  • Complete a residency program
  • Obtain a medical license
  • Earn and maintain certification
  • 1. Attain a Bachelor's Degree

    While medical schools do not typically require a specific undergraduate degree, they do seek students who have completed the pre-medical curriculum at a college. This curriculum can be fulfilled through majors in mathematics, chemistry, biology, and physics. Students must also have completed coursework in English and social sciences. Many aspiring pediatricians pursue a biology degree, and some colleges offer specialized pre-medical programs to help students prepare for medical school.

    To become a pediatrician, passing the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is necessary. The MCAT assesses students' knowledge in physical science, biology, and their cognitive and verbal reasoning abilities. Some students opt to enroll in preparatory classes or join study groups to better prepare for the MCAT. Gaining experience by volunteering at medical facilities or working with children in schools or after-school programs can also be beneficial.

    Best Medical Schools In Canada 2021

    2. Earn a Medical Degree

    The next step on the journey to becoming a pediatrician is obtaining a medical degree (MD or ND). The first two years of medical school consist of classroom-based learning, covering various medical processes, body systems, and diseases. During the second half of the program, students participate in clinical rotations, where they work directly with patients under the supervision of licensed physicians. Clinical rotations may include pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics, and internal medicine.

    Students typically take the first portion of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) before starting clinical training, and the second part is taken after completing clinical training. Some states require students to pass both parts of the exam before beginning a residency program. After completing medical school, most aspiring pediatricians progress to the final stage: residency.

    The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) is commonly used by students to find a residency match. Aspiring pediatricians should create a list of potential pediatric residency programs and arrange interviews with them.

    3. Complete a Residency Program

    A residency program provides specialized training in pediatric medicine. Residents gain hands-on experience working directly with patients during clinical rotations. They also participate in sessions and group settings specifically designed for residents to review their work and study case studies. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, a pediatric residency typically lasts for three years. Throughout this time, residents learn about general pediatrics and infant care.

    Pediatric residency programs offer various specializations such as adolescent medicine, pediatric sports medicine, pediatric gastroenterology, and neonatal-perinatal medicine. Pursuing a specialization may extend the residency period by three years.

    The residency period can be challenging, and some residents may need to relocate for work opportunities. Building a network can be beneficial for aspiring pediatricians, as it provides emotional and professional support during this phase of training. Joining professional organizations and seeking out mentors can help facilitate the transition into the pediatrician lifestyle and workload.

    4. Acquire a Medical License

    To practice as a pediatrician, it is imperative to obtain a license granted by the state's licensing board. Additionally, each state has its own set of standards for pediatricians to fulfill in terms of education and training. Successful completion of all three sections of the USMLE exam is also a prerequisite.

    Canadian Licensing Exam

    5. Attain and Sustain Certification

    Licensed pediatricians have the option to pursue certification from the American Board of Pediatrics. In order to be eligible, applicants must have completed the necessary medical training within the past seven years. However, individuals who have been away from the field for longer periods may be required to undertake further training. The certification process necessitates the completion of a thorough examination comprising approximately 300 to 350 questions. Pediatricians can also opt to specialize in a specific field by successfully passing a separate certification exam.

    To maintain their certification, pediatricians must engage in continuous learning. The American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Medical Specialties have jointly established a comprehensive four-part program to ensure that physicians stay updated with the latest advancements in pediatrics. Accumulating continuing education credits is essential for pediatricians to adhere to these certification requirements.

    Additionally, every decade, pediatricians undergo an assessment encompassing professionalism, medical knowledge, practice methods, and communication skills. Maintaining certification showcases professionalism and commitment to the field, while also opening up doors for career advancement opportunities within pediatric clinics, hospitals, and other medical establishments.

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