A pediatrician is a medical doctor that specializes in pediatric care of people under 21. Some of the duties they are expected to perform include consulting with patients, reviewing medical histories of the patients, ordering diagnostic tests when the need arises, and recommending treatment plans for their patients.
Watch a video to learn what a pediatrician does.
How to Become a Pediatrician
If you are interested in becoming a pediatrician, you are advised to follow the steps below.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree: Before you can be admitted to study medicine, you will be required to obtain a bachelors degree in any of the following courses as an undergraduate. A graduate degree in Physical sciences (such as organic and physics, inorganic chemistry) and Biological Sciences is required.
Gaining admission to study medicine is quite competitive. To that effect, you can have a better chance of acceptance if you have a bachelor’s degree in any of the courses listed above or you could offer to work as a volunteer or paid clinical health care in order to gather experience, participate in extracurricular activities and take on some leadership positions while in college. You will be required to prepare for a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) during your undergraduate days. Passing MCAT is a prerequisite to gaining admission into medical schools.
Graduate From Medical School: Before earning the right to use the title Medical Doctor (M.D.) you will be required to complete four years in an osteopathic or allopathic medical school. Completing these programs will give you a Medical doctor degree (allopathic school) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. These programs will adequately prepare you to practice medicine as a pediatrician. It should, however, be noted that the osteopathic programs place more emphasis on the musculoskeletal system rather than preventive medicine.
In your medical school, you will be required to take a two-year compulsory laboratory course in the sciences such as microbiology, pharmacology, pathology, biochemistry, physiology, and anatomy.
Obtain a License
No medical doctor is allowed to practice medicine without a license. In the United States, allopathic physicians are expected to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) while the osteopathic physicians are required to pass the Comprehensive Medical Licensing Exam (COMPLEX). The examination is aimed at testing the candidate’s basic knowledge and ability to apply the gathered knowledge to the clinical practice of medicine.
Complete a Pediatric Residency: After graduation from medical school and obtaining the needed license, you will be required to complete residency training in pediatrics. Depending on the region the training can last for up to three years. The training is aimed at exposing you to the various clinical rotations in different pediatric subspecialties such as cardiology, endocrinology, emergency medicine and adolescent medicine. You may also be required to attend lectures during your residency.
Consider Earning Board Certification: After successfully completing your residency course, you may also be required to earn a board certification. This is however not compulsory but this Board certification will show the patients that you hold a high level of competency in your chosen profession. These board certifications are regulated by different bodies such as the American Board of Medical Sciences (ABMS) for allopathic physicians and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) for osteopathic physicians. To maintain board certification, continued education is required.
Job Description of a Pediatrician
A pediatrician has been specially trained to diagnose and treat medical conditions that are unique or peculiar to infants, adolescents, and teens. They can also offer professional advice to parents on how well to take care of their sick children or the possible preventive measures against childhood diseases, treat varying degrees of injuries from mild to complicated, and administer vaccination when the need arises. Although they specialize in the treatment of children, pediatricians can also specialize in particular medical conditions that are common in young patients or in pediatric surgery.
As a medical practitioner, your day starts as early as possible and ends quite late, depending on the shift you are working on. In the mornings, a pediatrician is expected to run rounds in the hospital to check on the patients and read their medical records. The doctor is expected to be seated in his consulting room after the morning rounds to meet with new or returning patients all through the day. Finally, the doctor is expected to revisit the wards to check on patients before closing for the day. In general, the entire day of a pediatrician is quite busy and hectic.
Pediatrician Career Video Transcript
To improve the quality of life of a child is immensely rewarding. Pediatricians combine science, technology, compassion, and people skills in a unique profession tasked with providing medical care for infants, children, and young adults. Pediatricians are physicians who diagnose, treat and help prevent children’s diseases and injuries, from birth through young adulthood.
At clinics, they regularly see patients for “well-child” visits where they check to see if kids are growing and developing appropriately, as well as ensuring children receive necessary vaccines and health tests such as hearing and vision screening. Pediatricians also see children when they are sick, and prescribe medications or other treatment. These physicians work with the whole family to design treatment plans and provide the knowledge and support that is needed to care for a child.
While most pediatricians work in doctors’ offices; others care for patients in hospitals. Pediatricians may specialize in different areas such as pediatric surgery or autoimmune disorders. After college, pediatricians complete 4 years of medical school, followed by 3 years of residency training in general pediatrics. Pediatricians may seek additional training in a specialty field.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Pediatricians, General.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.org). Pediatrics as a Profession
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.