How to Become a Pediatrician?

Pediatricians are responsible for providing medical care to babies, children, and teens. Working knowledge of diseases that affect this age group, plus the training to diagnose and treat young people, is part of what separates pediatricians from other doctors. This job typically provides high job satisfaction to those who do it, despite the intense years of training it takes to become a pediatrician.

About Pediatricians

Pediatricians are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating children. A pediatrician is qualified to treat patients from infancy until their late teens, possibly even until a person’s 21st birthday. Along with diagnosing and treating, pediatricians also provide preventative care, yearly check-ups, and more. These doctors are well-versed in diseases that typically affect children. Pediatricians are usually effective communicators with a good bedside manner.

Education and Experience Needed

To become a pediatrician, you need to take pre-med courses while you’re pursuing your undergraduate degree. Majoring in a field like biology or chemistry is also helpful. You need to take the MCAT and apply to medical school. After you’ve graduated from medical school, you pursue a pediatrics residency. Once you’re finished with your residency, you need to get licensed and possibly board-certified, if you’re going into a specialty.

Becoming a pediatrician takes significant time. Medical school takes between three and four years to complete. Most pediatric residencies take three years. Add this time to the four years you spend in undergraduate school, and you’re looking at between 10 and 13 years spent in school. it’s a rigorous process that gives you considerable experience before you go to work as a full-time doctor.

Average Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a mean annual salary of $184,240 for pediatricians. The median salary is $168,990, which is lower than many other average physician salaries. However, pediatricians with specialties make an average annual salary of $229,180. Pediatrician salaries change based on geographic location, place of employment, and years of experience. According to U.S. News, the average salary a pediatrician in Jacksonville, Florida, makes is $280,750, so a pediatrician can make a lot of decisions that positively affect the job’s salary.

Average Duties and Tasks

Pediatricians work in all kinds of environments, from hospitals to private offices to overseas jobs. A pediatrician may find employment in a school or a community health center, too.

Though a pediatrician’s primary job is providing medical care to infants, children, and teens, they have other duties as well. Preventative medicine is an important part of being a pediatrician. Advising kids and their parents about diet, exercise, and hygiene is part of being a pediatrician. Knowing when to recommend certain preventative vaccinations, like the HPV vaccine, is another aspect of the job. As a pediatrician, you’ll do checkups and assess whether your patients are growing and developing normally. It’s very common for a pediatrician to provide care for a child from birth to age 18.

Pediatricians need to have good communication skills because they have to communicate with both children and their parents. The ability to discuss medical options with parents, and also to tell children about treatment plans, is essential. A pediatrician may work as one doctor in a group private practice, as the sole pediatrician in private practice, or as a staff doctor at a hospital. In these cases, pediatricians may also take on supervisory roles, which include admitting patients, ordering tests, and coordinating with other doctors. In teaching hospitals, pediatricians may teach residents learning about the field.

Advancement Opportunities

After working in pediatrics for a while, you can choose to pursue a fellowship. Fellowships are how you specialize within the field of pediatrics. Neonatology and critical care are a couple of specialties you can apply for fellowships. These specializations help you hone your career, often qualifying you for higher salaries than general pediatrics offers. Your other option is to open up a private practice. This option is good for those who are also interested in the day-to-day aspects of running a business.

Working in a hospital, especially within a specialty, gives pediatricians the opportunity to move up the hospital ladder. Becoming the director of the pediatrics ward or even the medical director of the hospital are both possibilities. Some pediatricians decide to teach at medical schools after spending a few decades practicing medicine.

Becoming a pediatrician takes more than a decade of intense study and practice, and with continuing education requirements, the learning never really ends. Pediatricians have lots of options when it comes to workplace, hours, and salary, allowing these doctors to build the careers they want.