How to Become a Pediatrician

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Pediatrics is a medical discipline that focuses on providing care to infants, children, and teenagers. Pediatricians are specially trained medical doctors that are experts in pediatrics and treat a variety of young patients with many different conditions.


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What does a pediatrician do?

Pediatricians concentrate on providing preventative care and treatment of many different conditions related to childhood. They focus on the physical, emotional, and social health of children ranging from birth to 21 years of age. They perform regular check ups and physical examinations, administer immunizations, and perform routine screening tests. They diagnose and treat injuries, infections, diseases, and many other conditions. They also evaluate and treat developmental and behavioral problems that occur during childhood. They examine medical records, document observations, and provide counseling and advice to parents on the care for their children. Pediatricians strive to foster overall health and wellbeing of children and help ease the difficulties of living with a chronic condition.

What kind of training does a pediatrician need?

Like all physicians, pediatricians must complete a bachelor degree, medical degree, internship, and residency training. Medical school provides intensive instruction and clinical rotations of all major medical disciplines. After medical school prospective pediatricians must complete an internship and pediatric residency program. Some pediatricians complete fellowship training to specialize in a specific area such as pediatric surgery, pediatric oncology, and pediatric emergency medicine. All pediatricians must be licensed in the state they intend to practice in. They must also gain board certification from the American Board of Pediatrics. Pediatricians must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications and keep their skills up to date.

What are the prospects for a career as a pediatrician?

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

Job prospects are expected to be very good especially for pediatricians with extensive experience and specialties. Numerous job openings will arise from the need to replace pediatricians that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do pediatricians make?

As of December 2009, the middle 50% of pediatricians earn annual salaries between $137,222 and $181,440. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $204,821 (2).

A career as a pediatrician is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in caring for children of all ages. Pediatricians must have a genuine love for children and passion for treating their unique medical needs. Patience, determination, emotional stability, and a gentle and caring demeanor are essential characteristics. Pediatricians must be able to relate to children and be able to make them feel at ease. They must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills to interact with a variety of patients, parents, and other healthcare professionals. They must have good judgment and be able to make effective decisions in stressful situations.

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