How to Become a Pediatrician
Pediatricians provide medical care for adults under 20 and children under 18, and also for some adults with pediatric illnesses. Working as a pediatrician can be a very rewarding career, but also requires a great deal of training, education, and both physical and emotional stamina. Read this article to learn how to get started.
Getting Your Education and Credentials
Obtain a high school diploma or pass the General Education Development (GED) test.This is the first step on the road to becoming a doctor. Classes like biology, physics, and chemistry will prepare you for the type of coursework you will be studying in medical school. How you perform in these types of courses will be a good indicator of whether medicine is the right field for you.
- If you dislike science courses like biology and chemistry, or find that you struggle to keep up with the classes, you might want to consider getting a private tutor to help you. If you are still having trouble even with the help of a tutor, then you should reconsider pursuing medicine and explore your other interests.
- Getting good grades in high school will be important when it come to applying to a four-year university. The grades you receive during your sophomore and junior years are important. Be sure to complete assignments on time, study for tests and quizzes, and keep up with reading assignments.
Graduate from a four-year university.You should apply to several different universities and choose the most prestigious one, as this will increase your chances of getting into medical school.Most students who pursue medicine choose pre-med majors like Biology or Chemistry, but you don't necessarily have to graduate with a Bachelor of Sciences (BS).Students who graduate in social sciences and humanities can also be accepted to medical school.
- Even if you don't graduate in sciences, you may need to complete certain requirements in chemistry, physics, general biology, and calculus.The specific requirements will vary between schools, so check around with the various medical schools you plan on applying to.
- Increase your chances of being accepted to a top medical school by volunteering or working in an environment that deals with public health. Volunteer at a hospital or nursing home, or find a job working in a pharmacy.
Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).The MCAT is a standardized multiple-choice test that is required for admission to medical school. The topics covered in the test include physical sciences, biological sciences, and verbal reasoning.
- Prepare for the test by buying an official MCAT handbook, taking practice tests, hiring a private tutor, and/or taking an MCAT preparatory class.
Finish medical school.Most medical school programs are four years long. During the first two years, you will study broader subjects like physiology, chemistry, human anatomy, and pharmacology.During your second two years, you will narrow down your focus to a specialized field, including family practice, internal medicine, and pediatrics.
- Annual fees for medical school average at ,000 for state residents and ,000 for non-residents.Consider getting a loan, grant or scholarship to help you pay for medical school.
Complete a residency at a hospital.Once you have graduated from medical school, you will need to complete a three-year pediatric training program at a hospital before you can start your own practice.During this time, you will be given hands-on training and develop your skills in treating and dealing with sick patients. Over the course of the three years, you will be given an increasing amount of responsibilities and learn how to properly interact with patients.
- The training program must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).
- Residencies are the most challenging part of becoming a doctor. You will be working very long hours (80-100 hours per week) and will be paid a minimum wage.Expect to devote all of your time to completing your residency; you will have very little time to spend with friends and family.
Get board certified.You will need to receive and maintain a certification to practice pediatric medicine by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) or the American Osteopathic Board of Pediatrics (AOBP).
- There is a limit of seven years that can pass between the time you finish your pediatric training and become board certified.
- Certifications expire on December 31 of the specified year of expiration, and doctors will have to renew their certifications to continue practicing.
Understanding the Required Skills and Habits
Be prepared for the physical and emotional challenges involved.Pediatricians work with both healthy children and sick children whose illnesses will vary in their severity, and may meet patients who do not survive their illnesses. Parents of sick children may be extremely emotional and touchy, so it is important to be empathetic, patient, and have strong communication skills.
- It is important to be detail-oriented and have a thorough understanding of medicine in order to effectively diagnose patients, especially infants, who cannot articulate their symptoms.
- Physicians usually work long hours and have limited time to spend with friends and family. They also experience a great deal of stress when it comes to both time-management and the prospect of losing patients.
Know what to expect in medical school.Many students feel overwhelmed and discouraged by the heavy workload and breadth of study in medical school. The best way to prepare for medical school is to have a thorough understanding of the basic subjects, which include anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry, among others.
- Be prepared to spend a majority of your time either in school or studying. Take advantage of the months before medical school starts to travel and spend time with loved ones, as your free time will be very limited once the program begins.
Start early.It is important that you fully apply yourself in all levels of your education, from high school through medical school. Getting good grades early on in life will increase your likelihood of being accepted to a reputable university, medical school, and residency program. More importantly, being able to grasp the basic subjects early on in life will build a foundation that will help you throughout your education and work as a doctor.
Determine whether you enjoy working with children.Pediatricians should love children and feel comfortable working with them. Remember that you will be working with children of all ages, from infants to adolescents up to age 18. Treating younger patients requires more patience and intuition as a doctor, as patients may be uncooperative or unable to speak for themselves (especially infants).
QuestionHow many years do I have to study in order to become a pediatrician?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou must first complete four years at a university, and then another four years at a medical school. After medical school comes one year as a pediatrics intern, and to finish everything up, you could spend a year or longer in pediatrics residency.Thanks!
QuestionWhat subjects should I choose to become a pediatrician after grade 9?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry to do well in advanced math and sciences. Try to volunteer or research in a pediatric field, then enter college on a pre-med track.Thanks!
QuestionWhere do pediatricians work?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThey can work anywhere from private practices, to hospitals, to schools, for the government, or in schools.Thanks!
QuestionCan I become a pediatrician if I go to a two-year community college?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGet your bachelor's from a four year course after you complete community college and then you can apply to med school.Thanks!
QuestionIs there training or subjects I can take if I am 12 and want to become a pediatric surgeon?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. Focus on and excel in your science and math classes.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I become a pediatrician quickly?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere's no shortcut to becoming a doctor. In college you can take summer, weekend, and night courses to speed through your undergraduate years a bit faster. With med school, it's 4 years guaranteed.Thanks!
QuestionI have a degree in education - is it possible for me to study pediatrics?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you just need to take the pre-requisite classes for applying to medical school (usually biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics and sometimes biochemistry - check with the schools you are applying to), complete the MCAT and have solid extracurricular activities (research, volunteering, shadowing).Thanks!
QuestionWhat are ACT and SAT tests and what do the letters mean?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe ACT and SAT are tests that must be taken in order to get into college. You can choose whether to take one or the other, or you can do both. Depending on the score you get, that will help you know what college you will and will not be able to go to. ACT is an abbreviation for American College Testing, and SAT is an abbreviation for Scholastic Aptitude Test.Thanks!
QuestionDo I need to be a nurse in order to become a pediatrician?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, you do not need to become a nurse first in order to become a pediatrician.Thanks!
QuestionCan the ACT and SAT be taken more than once?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, ACT and SAT tests can be taken more than once.Thanks!
Do I need to get good grades in HPE to have a better chance of becoming a paediatrician?
Can a clinical officer become a pediatrician?
I will go to a University after community college to start my biology major, but what courses will need to be taken when I go to community college?
How do I become a pediatrician if I'm an average student?
I am learning biology and chemistry. Could I become a pediatrician?
If you want to become a pediatrician, try to take science classes, like biology and chemistry, in high school. Spend some time around children if you can to be sure you're comfortable working with them. Additionally, do your best to treat people with patience and empathy, since these are skills pediatricians use every day dealing with children and their parents. You can also practice being detail oriented, which is especially important in diagnosing patients.
- Keep in mind that you will need lots of patience to become a pediatrician.
- If you want to be a pediatrician, never stop chasing your dreams, even if there are setbacks along the way.
- Even if you have your heart set on pediatrics, you may want to explore the prospect of other specialized fields of medicine. The first two years of medical school will help you narrow down your area of interest.
- Consider taking out a student loan or applying for a scholarship to help pay for medical school, which can be very expensive.
- If you are good with small animals, you should be able to do well with small children. Testing has shown many similarities to the brain activity of both. If you have successfully treated a puppy for parvis, helping a child with a cold will come naturally for you and being a pediatrician will come naturally to you.
- Make a good relationship with kids, because if you hate kids this field isn't for you.
- Make sure you are comfortable with working with children and young teens.
Video: A day in the life of a general pediatrics resident at Nationwide Children's Hospital
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