CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a pediatrician.
Is becoming a pediatrician right for me?
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Students must earn an undergraduate/bachelor's degree in order to apply to medical school. Some students may enter a pre-med program to become a pediatrician, however others get prerequisites by taking courses such as physics, biology, and chemistry (inorganic and organic). Students who have a clear goal to become a pediatrician may choose to major in child psychology or another discipline closely associated with pediatrics.
MCAT & Medical School Application
Applying to medical school and earning a doctor of medicine (M.D.) degree is a requirement to becoming a pediatrician. When students apply to medical school, they first need to take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test ) first and send their scores and application to the school. A student generally takes the exam during his or her third year of undergraduate studies.
Medical school generally takes four years to complete. During this time, students are exposed to specialties such as internal medicine, family practice, cardiology, gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery. The first two years of medical school include anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, and medical ethics. The last two years are spent learning how to care for patients (in a hospital or clinic), under the supervision of experienced physicians.
Once a student has completed medical school, they are considered a doctor. However, in order to become a pediatrician, one still needs to complete a three-year residency in an approved program to further learn about treating children. This takes place under the supervision of experienced pediatricians.
A doctor who wishes to specialize in a sub-field of pediatrics (such as pediatric cardiology, oncology or neurology, amongst others) will pursue a fellowship program. Depending on the sub-specialty, training lasts two to three years.
All doctors in the United States need to obtain a license in order to practice in the state of their choice. Requirements vary on a state-to-state basis, however all include taking and passing a two-part examination.
Board Certification (Optional)
Pediatricians can become board-certified in a sub-specialty, which means fulfilling a separate certification process and taking another exam associated with that specific area of pediatrics.
How to become a Pediatrician
A pediatrician is a physician who takes care of children from birth to age 21, and impacts the health of children all the way into their adult lives. Supervising the health of children requires specialized medical training - becoming a pediatrician requires four years of university, four years of medical school, and at least three years of an internship and residency.
Pediatricians may advise parents on the best way to care for their first baby, diagnose childhood diseases, and recognize early symptoms of a variety of disorders. Regardless of what children ail from, they need to be assessed and treated in a way that is appropriate to their age and weight.