How to Become a Pediatric Surgeon

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Pediatric surgery is a subspecialty of general surgery that focuses on performing a variety of surgical procedures on children ranging in age from birth to young adults. Pediatric surgeons are specially trained experts in pediatrics that perform many different procedures on young patients.


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What does a pediatric surgeon do?

Pediatric surgeons diagnose and provide operative care to children with a variety of conditions, illnesses, and diseases. They often focus on preventative care and they provide education to patients and families. They examine medical records, perform physical examinations, perform tests, and discuss treatment options with the patient and caregivers. Some pediatric surgeons specialize in a specific area such as prenatal surgery, neonatal surgery, pediatric oncology, and pediatric trauma. Pediatric surgeons often collaborate with many other healthcare professionals to provide the best care possible for each individual patient.

What kind of training does a pediatric surgeon need?

Pediatric surgeons must complete an undergraduate degree, medical school, an internship, residency training, and fellowship training. Medical school provides intensive classroom and laboratory training and clinical rotations of all major medical disciplines. After medical school aspiring pediatric surgeons must complete an internship and general surgery residency training. They must then become board certified in general surgery by passing an examination administered by the American Board of Medical Specialists. They then pursue fellowship training in pediatric surgery and become board certified from the American Board of Pediatrics. Pediatric surgeons must become recertified every 10 years. All surgeons must also be licensed in the state they intend to practice. Pediatric surgeons must complete continuing education on a regular basis to maintain their license and stay up to date with their skills and the current advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a pediatric surgeon?

Employment of all surgeons is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing population and increased need for surgery on children will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be great especially for pediatric surgeons that have extensive experience. Numerous job openings will arise from the need to replace pediatric surgeons that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do pediatric surgeons make?

As of December 2009, the middle 50% of pediatric surgeons earn annual salaries between $279,790 and $403,290. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $453,984 (2).

A career as a pediatric surgeon is a great choice for individuals that have a strong interest in surgery and caring for pediatric patients. Pediatric surgeons must have a true passion for working with children and a solid knowledge of many different surgical techniques for all stages of child development. Compassion, patience, sensitivity, detail orientation, and emotional stability are essential characteristics. Pediatric surgeons must be able to make young patients feel at ease. They must also be able to make quick decisions in stressful situations.

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