Tiny preemies tug on everyone's heartstrings and often need intensive care, but even full-term newborn babies can require a great deal of specialized medical attention. A neonatologist is trained to treat newborn babies with conditions including breathing problems, infections and birth defects. Neonatologists have experience using medical equipment designed for use on the small bodies of preemies, and in working with obstetricians to coordinate care for infants who are critically ill or need immediate surgery.
A neonatologist is a medical doctor with additional training, which means that she has earned a four-year undergraduate degree, completed a four-year medical school program, and also completed a three-year general pediatrics residency working hands on with other pediatricians; last but not least, she will have undertaken an additional three-year residency or fellowship in neonatology.
All doctors, including neonatologists, must be licensed to practice medicine in the state where they live. You are officially a doctor after graduating from medical school with your M.D., and you can apply for a temporary license to practice medicine while you are a resident. After you are done with your residency, you can apply for a permanent medical license.
Many neonatologists will also earn a certification from the American Board of Pediatrics and the Sub-Board of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. Board certification means you have passed a comprehensive exam on best practices in the subject area, and is considered the gold standard of medical practitioners in any specialty.
Neonatalogists are a type of pediatrician, and pediatricians earned a median annual salary of $192,148 as of May 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to Neonatology on the Web, neonatologist salaries range from around $75,000 per year for a newly graduated neonatologist in an academic hospital to over $250,000 for an experienced neonatologist providing night call in a busy private hospital.
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