How to Become a Pediatrician

To become a pediatrician ( or a doctor in any field) requires years of commitment to study, residency, and training. With 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school and another 3 years of an internship and residency program, you are facing 11 years of study and the cost of funding all that education.

As with most any future career plans, begin in high school by learning good study habits and getting the best grades possible. No one is perfect and straight A’s aren’t needed to get into college or medical school but on the extreme end of things, mediocre work will keep you from pursuing a higher education in any field.

Getting a four year degree in either a BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BS (Bachelor of Science) is the foundation to becoming a pediatrician. A major in one of the fields of Science is not necessary as long as you maintain good consistent grades and show that you can commit to succeeding in obtaining your goals.

Medical School is another four years of study focusing on topics specifically required to practice any field of medicine. Again good study habits, commitment to your career path and learning to balance study, work and recreational time is needed to avoid burning out or getting discouraged before you have had a real chance to begin your career in pediatrics.

Your years of residency and internship are not actual classroom forms of study. They are an intense form of on the job training giving hands on experience with the procedures and challenges faced by physicians in any specialty. The good news is that you do get paid during this time rather than simply watching the cost of your education continue to climb.

The average pediatrician will make $139,000 a year in income, work 50-60 hours per week seeing between 90-100 patients per week. What exactly that may involve is hard to know as there are so many options within pediatrics. Some pediatricians are general practitioners over seeing the general care and well being of children, while others specialize and care for children facing health problems such as cancer, heart or kidney diseases.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the 11 years of study you complete to become a pediatrician means the end of your studies. With the rapidly advancing changes in the medical field, you will need to plan on following a course of continuing education to keep up with all the new advances.

After all that work and study, you must take and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) which is a three-step exam. Part 1 is usually taken during your second or third year of medical school and part 2 is taken during your final year in medical school. At the same time as you are taking step one and two of the USMLE, you will be applying to pediatric residency programs to focus on the specifics involved with pediatric medicine.

Finally, step three in the USMLE is taken at the end of your internship. Once you pass that you can then apply for a state medical license. To become a board certified pediatrician you must go an additional step by taking and passing the American Board of Pediatrics Examination.

Becoming a pediatrician is a long challenging goal. Once you see your first young patient the rewards will be worth the time, struggle and investment.


Becoming a Pediatrician. Vincent Iannelli, MD. About.com


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