Becoming a Pediatrician

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Gap Medics student Angela and her mentor in the pediatric department of Tosamaganga Hospital

Being a pediatrician can be a very rewarding career choice for those who are interested in medicine and enjoy caring for children. Pediatricians provide care for children of all ages. They treat babies all the way up to teenagers.

 

 

Responsibilities of Being a Pediatrician 

Pediatricians provide both routine care and urgent care for kids with all types of conditions. This may involve providing maintenance care for children who are healthy and medical treatment for children who are ill. A big part of the job is monitoring children to make sure they are developing as expected.

Similar to other types of doctors, pediatricians perform physical exams, order routine health screenings and diagnostic tests. They often treat conditions, such as infections, injuries and genetic defects.

Pediatricians may manage children with chronic medical conditions, such as epilepsy, asthma and certain learning disabilities. Management often includes consulting with other specialists and educating parents on how to provide care at home.

The Road to Becoming a Pediatrician

If caring for children sounds like something you are interested in doing, earning a four-year degree is the first thing you need to do. After completing all the prerequisites including taking the MCATS, it is time to apply to med school.

Four years of medical school including classroom lectures and clinical rotations in various medical specialties is next. After graduating from medical school, a three-year pediatric residency is required to become board certified as a pediatrician.

Further Specialization  

After completing a pediatric residency, some doctors choose to continue their education and specialize further. Certain pediatric subspecialties are well known, such as pediatric oncology or pediatric critical care.

But there are also lesser known subspecialties in pediatrics, which may offer unique opportunities to make a difference including adolescent medicine and child abuse pediatrician. Additional pediatric subspecialties include cardiology, emergency medicine and child psychiatry.

All subspecialties require completion of a fellowship in the particular area of interest. The length of the fellowship varies according to the specialty. Many fellowships range from one to three years.

Skills Needed

Pediatricians need the same skills other specialists do, such as good communication skills, problems solving and critical thinking. But they also need to have an extra level of understating when working when children. It takes patience and the ability to communicate effectively with patients of all ages.

Knowledge of child development including emotional develop is critical for doctors working with children. Pediatricians may be caring for a toddler one minute and talking with a teenager the next. The ability to switch gears quickly is essential. It is also helpful to have a sense of humor and compassion.

Opportunities

Pediatricians work in a variety of settings including hospitals and clinics. Some doctors who specialize in treating critically ill children may work in pediatric intensive care units in children’s hospitals. Those who focus on adolescent medicine may work in juvenile justice facilities and college health services. Many pediatricians also decide to run their own practice or join a group pediatric practice.

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