How Can I Become a Pediatrician?
When kids get sick, they visit a pediatrician to receive a diagnosis and treatment. Does the idea of helping make sick kids better appeal to you? If so, read on to find out about a pediatrician's educational path, licensing requirements and earning potential. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Does a Pediatrician Do?
Pediatricians are trained physicians who specialize in treating children aged from infants to young adults. As a pediatrician, you would deal with routine healthcare issues, such as minor injuries, immunizations and common illnesses. You'd also monitor a child's growth and development, conducting tests and explaining the results. Opportunities may be available to concentrate in a certain area, such as pediatric surgery or autoimmune disorders. You'll have the opportunity to work in a variety of places, such as small clinics, hospitals or private offices.
What Education Would I Need?
You might consider majoring in one of the sciences, such as biology or chemistry, at the bachelor's degree level. You can expect to devote four years towards the completion of a bachelor's degree program. During the final year, you'll need to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and apply to medical school.
Medical school lasts four years and can lead to a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.). A D.O. particularly focuses on preventative medicine and holistic care, but both types of medical doctors can specialize in pediatrics. The first two years of an M.D. curriculum focus on foundational coursework in anatomy, physiology, cell structure, genetics and human biochemistry. The final two years involve clinical rotations in a number of areas of medicine, such as obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, surgery, psychiatry and pediatrics.
What Happens After Medical School?
After medical school, you'll need to enter a residency program in pediatrics, which generally lasts three years. During the program, you can go on rounds with attending physicians, assist on actual cases and attend topic-focused workshops. You will have the opportunity to work closely with faculty as you acquire a broad base of knowledge in pediatric medicine and develop a congenial bedside manner. Residency is the last formal educational requirement.
All 50 states require practicing physicians to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination. You'll want to check your state board for any other requirements. Also, board certification is considered a highly desirable professional distinction. You can apply for certification in general pediatrics or a subspecialty through the American Board of Pediatrics, which requires three years of pediatric training (www.abp.org).
How Much Can I Expect To Earn?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), general pediatricians earned an average salary of $165,720 in May 2010. Outpatient care centers were the top-paying industry for this field at the time. General pediatricians who worked in this environment made an average salary of $182,090. The BLS also reported that physicians and surgeons could expect a 22% growth in employment from 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov).
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