Pediatrician - How to Become a Pediatrician

Pediatrician

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Pediatrician Job Description

 

Pediatricians specialize in treating ailments and illnesses of children. They treat illnesses such as strep throat, pink eye, colds, and chicken pox. In addition, pediatricians help healthy children stay well; this can include administering immunizations, evaluating patients' growth and weight, and providing guidance for social, mental, and emotional health. Pediatricians might work for clinics, hospitals, or in private practice.

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Responsibilities

 

Pediatricians work with kids to treat them of with a variety of illnesses, injuries, and health conditions. They also teach and work as administrators at medical centers and engage in medical research.

A medical doctor's responsibilities include:

  • Diagnosing diseases, illnesses, and/or conditions

  • Assessing the need for therapies and/or medicines and prescribing them

  • Providing information to patients and families regarding diagnosis and treatment goals

  • Monitoring patient progress and response to therapies and/or treatments

  • Maintaining patient records and accurate information

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Skills

 

 Medical doctors require a high level of science acumen. Aspiring physicians should focus on the human sciences during their undergraduate career, including biochemistry, biology, and anatomy, as they serve as the foundation to a full understanding of diagnosis and treatment.

Beyond a comprehensive understanding of science, a physician must possess highly developed communications and patient care skills. Doctors often work with patients from all walks of life, and being able to sensitively and effectively communicate with anyone is fundamental to a successful career, as found in a recent study by the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

Confidence, empathy, respectfulness, and thoroughness all fall under patient care skills. While patients want a physician who can accurately and knowledgeably diagnose and treat their illness, they also want one who exhibits the aforementioned personality traits.

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Working Conditions

 

Pediatric doctors work primarily in medical office settings but might need to travel to homes or hospitals when special patients' needs arise. Generally speaking, pediatric doctors work on a full-time basis, although some longer hours might be needed. These doctors are typically well paid, and the rewards of caring for children are great. However, working as a pediatrician can be stressful.

 Positions for physicians are available in a variety of health care settings. A physician may elect to set up a private practice, either alone or as part of a larger medical practice group. Others choose to work in medical centers and hospitals, universities and other public agencies.

Medical schools are working to increase their enrollments as a looming doctor shortage is expected in all geographic regions and areas of the profession. It is likely that physicians in the future will work fewer hours, which means lower earnings but they should be able to retire earlier. Low-income areas and rural regions will hold the greatest employment opportunities.

JAMA, the prestigious professional journal of the American Medical Association (AMA), is a major source for employment opportunities. The website for the AMA is part of an active network that helps physicians find the right job for them, in the right location and environment.

 


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How to Become a Pediatrician:

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

The first step on the path to becoming a Pediatrician (M.D.) is to earn a bachelor's degree in an undergraduate pre-med program. While each medical school has different requirements for admission, they all focus on certain common areas of study, including:

  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Calculus
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physics

A minimum of 3 years of undergraduate completion is required before applying to medical school while maintaining a high GPA (3.6+). Due to the competitive nature of these programs, the candidates with the most success are well-rounded with work, volunteer, extracurricular, and shadowing experience as well.

If you have three years of college but no bachelor’s degree, you can still be accepted to medical school. There are post-baccalaureate programs designed to help students catch up by providing the courses needed to apply to medical school. For applying, you must submit a copy of transcripts from any college and/or graduate school you’ve attended. You’ll also need letters of recommendation and scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). If you aren’t satisfied with your MCAT scores, you can retake the exam. The American Medical College Application Service can help with submitting one application to multiple medical schools.

All college students planning to enter medical school should take certain courses, regardless of their undergraduate major. Different medical schools may have varying requirements, so the following is intended as a basic guide.

The preparation timeline below outlines the suggested courses:

Freshman Year
  • General Biology I & Lab
  • General Biology II & Lab
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Calculus I
  • Calculus II
  • Electives
Sophomore Year
  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Social Sciences Requirements
  • Electives & Courses to Satisfy Your Major
  • Begin MCAT Studies

Junior Year

  • Physics I & Lab
  • Physics II & Lab
  • Electives & Courses to Satisfy Your Major
  • Request Application from the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS)
  • Register for the MCAT
Senior Year
  • Complete Required Graduation Coursework
  • Prepare for Interviews 
  • Search for Scholarships, Loans, Grants and Other Funding Options

Extracurricular activities are strongly encouraged, as well. Some suggested activities might include participating in a pre-health advisory program or joining other clubs and organizations. You may also consider establishing a relationship with a local doctor who would allow you to shadow him or her for a few days.

 

2. Take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

 

To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills.

 

The MCAT is divided into four sections:

 

Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics

Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior

  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology
Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills
  • 53 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes
  • Tests reading comprehension, humanities, and social sciences

 

You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the AAMC website here.

 

3. Earn a Medical Degree (4 Years)

 

A list of accredited medical education programs is available through the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). For more information and advice on successfully getting into medical school, you can check with the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Medical school consists of four years of studying the basics in science and participating in clinical “rotations.” These are hands-on clinical experiences in real health care settings. In most med schools, the first two years are taken up with classroom studies before students are assigned to do rotations. The current trend, however, finds a number of medical schools exposing students to early clinical experiences that continue throughout the four-year program.

Most medical schools base their curriculum on a system-based approach that focuses on one physiological system at a time, such as the respiratory system or the nervous system. Still others may use a case-based curriculum that teaches about the human body’s normal functioning and disease processes by assigning students to following individual patient cases from start to finish. Still other med schools use a combination of these approaches to educate their students.

The most common lines of coursework among medical schools consist of the following subjects:

  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Ethics
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Psychology

During the last two years of schooling, students are required to obtain hands-on experience at hospitals and clinics, learning to diagnose and treat patients while working under the supervision of licensed physicians. Clinical rotations include areas like pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and internal medicine

Upon completion of four years of med school, a student is awarded a medical degree, or M.D. Another popular trend is for schools to offer combination degree programs, such as MD/MPH, MD/PHD or MD/JD. The AAMC’s website on Medical School Admission Requirements offers more information on this option.

 

4. Earn the Required License & Certification

 

Every state requires physicians to pass a national, standardized exam. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, so contact your state's medical board for specific requirements.

For an aspiring Pediatric Physician (M.D.), the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is required. The USMLE is sponsored by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States (FSMB). Aspiring physicians can find sample questions, tutorials, and other study materials on the USMLE website. This exam has a limit of 6 attempts, and they may not be retaken to improve scores. Pediatricians can also be certified in a subspecialty by taking an additional subspecialty certifying exam.

 

5. Complete a Residency Program (3 - 4 Years)

 

After completing med school, you aren’t finished yet. Now it’s time to choose your specialty and complete your residency. These residency programs are offered in conjunction with intensive clinical training experiences. Aspiring pediatricians have the opportunity to receive specific training related to children's medicine. Residents work hands-on with patients during clinical rotations and are enabled to assess their own work and case studies. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, a pediatric residency lasts three years. During that time, residents learn about general pediatrics and newborn care.

The American Medical Association’s online FREIDA service is an interactive database of over 9,400 graduate medical education programs. These programs are all accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. There is also information on over 200 combined specialty programs.

 

6. Maintain Certification Through Continuing Education

 

To stay certified, pediatricians are required to continue their education. The American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) have developed a four-part program to help physicians stay up-to-date on advancements in pediatrics. Pediatricians are required to earn continuing education credits. They are regularly evaluated on their professionalism, medical knowledge, practice techniques and communication skills by taking an exam every ten years.

 

Total Time to Become a Pediatrician = 11 - 16 Years

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
12.05.2016
Full-time general pediatrician needed for the Arlington Pediatric Center, a state of the art pediatric medical home in Arlington, VA, a close-in suburb of Washington DC. We are looking for a dynamic pediatrician with a strong commitment to...
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Req ID: 26121 This position exists to provide direct medical care within the outpatient clinic The position works collaboratively with patients to meet improve their health and well-being Delivering evidenced based care that supports the...
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12.05.2016
The Stead Family Department of Pediatrics within the University of Iowa Carver College is Medicine is seeking a full-time pediatrician at the Associate (non-track), Assistant Professor, or Associate Professor levels (clinical track) to join...
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The Pediatric Nurse Practitioner is an interdependent member of the primary health care team who works independently and in collaboration with Pediatric physicians. Provides direct, high quality patient care services requiring extensive skills...
12.05.2016
Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
  1. Pediatrician, Arlington Pediatric Center Arlington, VA Virginia Hospital Center
    Full-time general pediatrician needed for the Arlington Pediatric Center, a state of the art pediatric medical home in Arlington, VA, a close-in suburb of Washington DC. We are looking for a dynamic pediatrician with a strong commitment to...
  2. Physician - Pediatrician, Duluth,MN Duluth, MN Essentia Health
    PHYSICIAN - Pediatrician Essentia Health Childrens Services brings together dedicated pediatric teams, where the family is central. We are focused on providing Patient-and Family-Centered care, have active Family Advisory Councils,...
  3. Pediatrician Minneapolis, MN Allina Health
    Req ID: 26121 This position exists to provide direct medical care within the outpatient clinic The position works collaboratively with patients to meet improve their health and well-being Delivering evidenced based care that supports the...
  4. Pediatrician St. Paul, MN HealthEast Care System
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  6. GENERAL PEDIATRICS FACULTY - COMMUNITY PRACTICE Iowa City, IA University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
    The Stead Family Department of Pediatrics within the University of Iowa Carver College is Medicine is seeking a full-time pediatrician at the Associate (non-track), Assistant Professor, or Associate Professor levels (clinical track) to join...
  7. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner St. Cloud, MN CentraCare Health
    The Pediatric Nurse Practitioner is an interdependent member of the primary health care team who works independently and in collaboration with Pediatric physicians. Provides direct, high quality patient care services requiring extensive skills...
  8. Registered Dietitian - Clinical Dietitian (Grow Clinic, Per Diem, Rotating Days) (AFSCME) Boston, MA Boston Medical Center
    Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...