A Complete Career Guide on How to Become a Pediatrician
Table of Contents Hide
- Who is a Pediatrician?
- What Pediatricians Do
- How to Become a Pediatrician
- What Does a Pediatrician’s Typical Day Entail?
- What to Know to Become a Pediatrician
If you’re a pre-med or medical student, you’re probably already considering what type of doctor you want to be. Those with a strong desire to work with infants, kids, or teenagers may have pediatricians at the top of their list of career options. According to the 2020 AAP Annual Survey of Graduating Residents, 95% of residents who want to become a pediatrician say they would choose the same field again if they could. This makes it a good field to go into.
This guide might assist you in recognizing each of the key phases if you’re interested in finding out more about how to become a doctor. But first, you may find it useful to understand more about the regular activities of these suppliers.
Who is a Pediatrician?
A pediatrician focuses on treating patients who are less than 18 years old. Some physicians may further specialize in treating children of a certain age, such as newborns or toddlers, or in a specific branch of pediatric medicine, like pediatric cardiology. Pediatricians are involved in every part of a patient’s health, from tracking a child’s growth to finding and treating illness.
What Pediatricians Do
Let’s take a quick glance at the job description before diving right into how to become a doctor.
Compared to other specialties of medicine, becoming a pediatrician has certain special challenges. Despite being your patient, the youngster is not the one making choices about their treatment. Instead, this employment route necessitates interacting with family members, especially their parents.
You’ll conduct routine health and wellness exams on your patients just as any doctor would. Along the way, you’ll provide parents with health advice so they know what to anticipate as their kid develops. You do a lot of preventative work, such as giving patients their scheduled doses of immunizations. To make sure the patient is progressing appropriately, you’ll also keep track of the patient’s development throughout each appointment.
As a doctor, you will undoubtedly diagnose your patients’ diseases, injuries, and other medical ailments. You will also need to prescribe drugs and deliver treatments as part of your employment. In addition, you may, if required, recommend patients and their families to additional experts.
How to Become a Pediatrician
A pediatrician may become one just like any other kind of doctor via a comparable procedure. Getting a bachelor’s degree, getting a medical degree, and finishing a residency are some of the requirements. Other actions, such as enrolling in advanced studies in high school and doing a fellowship after a residency, are optional but beneficial. Read on to discover more about how to become a doctor.
Step 1 – Take Related AP Courses in High School
Enrolling in AP courses will give high school students who desire to become doctors a jump start. Usually, these classes are harder than regular honors courses. Students may receive college credit by taking AP tests after the year. Any AP subject may help students gain college credit while still in high school, but students who want to become doctors should give AP scientific courses, including biology, a top priority.
Step 2 – Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Pediatricians-to-be should carefully choose undergraduate majors that will position them for success. To meet the requirements of students who wish to become physicians. However, learners do not necessarily need to finish pre-med programs to be successful as medical students or physicians.
Undergraduate biology majors are among the most common among aspiring physicians. These students also benefit from majoring in other sciences, including chemistry, physics, and human physiology. For their bachelor’s degree, students may pick psychology as their major if they intend to pursue a career in pediatric psychiatry. Students should make sure that the scientific credits that medical schools often demand are included in their undergraduate major.
Step 3 – Acquire Real-World Healthcare Experience
Before applying to medical school, students are advised to get practical experience in a medical environment by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The AAFP says that this experience may help a student get into medical school and may also help a student decide if a career in medicine is right for them.
A student may be able to obtain college credit via an internship. Medical assistant and emergency medical technician jobs may provide students with crucial bedside experience that will aid in their development as physicians. Some people who want to become pediatricians have a “gap year” between getting their bachelor’s degree and starting medical school. Candidates may be able to get important experience this year while preparing for admission tests.
Step 4 – Take the MCAT Exam
The standardized entrance exam for American medical schools is called the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). When a break is taken, the test may be finished in seven hours and thirty minutes. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the MCAT assesses four areas:
- Critical-thinking and reasoning capabilities
- The Biochemical and Biological Basis of Living Systems
- The chemical and physical foundations of biological systems
- Psychological, social, and biological bases of behavior.
Each year, the AAMC provides 15 MCAT testing opportunities. MCAT scores are taken into account by admissions committees for medical schools as a gauge of candidates’ potential as students and physicians. As a result, applicants must take test preparation classes and read books to be ready for the MCAT. Candidates that have exam anxiety might research several strategies to get over this inescapable worry.
Step 5 – Obtain a Medical Degree
Candidates may think about things including whether they satisfy the standards for the school, the cost of attendance, and the resources they would have access to while deciding whether to apply to a medical school. Typically, four years are needed to finish medical school. Learners attend lecture courses and take part in laboratories over the first two years. The first part of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is given at the end of the second year.
Medical students perform clinical rotations in teaching hospitals and equivalent facilities in their third and fourth years of study. Under the supervision of physicians, students receive practical experience throughout this time. By the conclusion of the third year of medical school, aspiring pediatricians often decide on their specialty. During these years, students must also pass the USMLE’s second component.
Step 6 – Complete a Residency Program
Through the National Resident Matching Program, graduates with medical degrees may apply for residency (NRMP). Candidates should think about their career aspirations while applying via the NRMP, but they do not yet need to be aware of their specialization, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. All pediatric residencies adhere to the standards set by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The ACGME curriculum requires that doctors learn a lot about a lot of different subspecialties.
Residencies may influence other aspects of a doctor’s life and are often time-consuming. There may only be one weekend off for doctors each month, so it’s critical to have supportive friends and family. About three years pass between residencies. Several hospitals’ websites also have more information about their residency programs, such as how much their residents make and how much they get paid.
Step 7 – Start a Fellowship Program
Doctors do not always need to undergo fellowships to work as pediatricians. However, these post-graduate options could let medical professionals focus on a particular area of pediatrics. Doctors may need to complete necessary fellowships to qualifying for several subspecialty jobs in pediatrics.
Doctors seeking fellowships in specialties including general pediatrics, child abuse, developmental-behavioral pediatrics, and neonatal-perinatal medicine may utilize the NRMP to accomplish so. In addition to fellowships provided by institutions, the NRMP Fellowships in pediatrics often last 1-3 years. After completing their residencies, doctors may apply for and complete fellowships at any time.
What Does a Pediatrician’s Typical Day Entail?
Your typical day may vary significantly depending on whether you work in a hospital or a doctor’s office when you explore how to become a pediatrician. Nevertheless, the following might be expected from a pediatrician’s typical day:
Organize your Day’s Appointments
You will start getting ready for the day’s appointments as soon as your day starts. This implies that you will evaluate the medical histories of the patients you will be meeting later in the day. Hospital pediatricians will utilize this opportunity to check on the well-being of their overnight patients before seeing them later. Before their shift finishes, they will meet briefly with the medical team who worked through the night to get information from them to do that.
Nevertheless, if you work in a doctor’s office, you will also go through the records of the patients you will be seeing that day. You may also be ready for any treatments you’ll be giving by doing this.
Naturally, connecting with patients and their families will take up most of your day. While doing rounds in the hospital wards, you’ll see both inpatients and outpatients who come to see you in your office.
The majority of your pediatrician duties will be completed during this period. You may examine your patients’ health and monitor their development, for instance. Additionally, you’ll give them any necessary treatments, shots, or prescription drugs.
However, your position as a doctor is rather special. In addition to working with patients, you’ll also communicate with their parents or other key caregivers. In this instance, it means you’ll inform the parents about the child’s illness and address any queries or worries they may have. You will also talk to the patient’s family about health care and help them understand what to expect as the child grows.
Updating Patient Records and Notes
You’ll spend some time updating your notes and the patient’s records after seeing and speaking with patients. Records and notes are now digitally stored. This means that you will be using a computer and medical software to do these tasks.
Update the patient records and notes with as much useful information as you can. That’s because everyone who treats the same patient’s medical records, including you, depends on them.
Their future care providers, including nurses, physicians, and specialists, will consult your records and depend on the expert advice you offer them.
Collaborate with Other Healthcare Providers
As a pediatrician, you often serve as the patient’s and their family’s initial point of contact while seeking medical attention. But some people have medical problems that are outside your scope of practice. To give better treatment in these circumstances, you will need to refer the patient to another expert.
Here, you’ll also need to work with the medical professionals to whom you send your patients. This means telling those other doctors about the patient’s health problems and giving them access to the patient’s medical records.
Working together with other medical specialists enables them to provide the patient with the best treatment possible.
What to Know to Become a Pediatrician
1 – Accreditation
Programmatic accreditation is a mark of approval that is given by independent groups to educational programs that meet strict criteria.
The institutions in charge of certifying medical programs in the US are the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) and the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA). Programs that lead to an MD are governed by LCME, whereas those that lead to a DO are accredited by COCA.
Medical licenses are more difficult to get for graduates of non-accredited medical schools. They must demonstrate that their education was on par with a recognized course of study.
2 – Cost of Education
In 2020-2021, one year of full-time tuition at a public four-year university cost $9,400 on average, which is significantly less than what private institutions charge. This information comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Prospective students should also take into account the additional expenses of attending college, including lodging, books, and test fees. Online learning may sometimes help students save money on these expenses.
The average cost of medical school, according to data from the AAMC, is roughly $218,790. Learners should look at the cost of college as an investment and compare it to what a pediatrician makes on average.
3 – Salary
According to the most recent BLS statistics, the median annual pay for general pediatricians was $198,420 in May 2021, which is four times the median compensation for all employees. Some subspecialties of medicine pay more for doctors. For instance, Payscale indicates that in April 2022, pediatric surgeons made an average pay of around $297,860 yearly, while neonatologists made an average compensation of about $225,290 annually in May of the same year. Doctors who pursue specializations like this often need to pass board examinations and undergo fellowships in relevant specialties.
Various settings are possible for pediatricians to work in. Pediatricians work for clinics, governments, and hospitals. Most either start their own private practices or join forces with other medical professionals. Pediatricians put in long hours and are constantly on the move. The typical pediatrician works 45 to 60 hours per week or 9 to 12 hours per day. They work whenever it’s needed and have very erratic schedules. It is challenging to reconcile a profession as a doctor with personal time because of the unpredictable work hours. So, if you want to become a pediatrician, you should follow the advice in this article and share it with your friends who have similar ambitions.