Thank goodness for pediatricians, otherwise parents might have to navigate the snot- and whine-infested waters of parenthood all alone. From burning fevers to unexplained rashes, pediatricians examine, diagnose and treat children from infancy through teenage years. Taking care of little ones requires over a decade of education and training, including four years of college, four years of medical school, clinical practice and extensive testing.
Completing an internship is one requirement in a very long line of requirements to become a pediatrician. Before an internship, aspiring doctors must earn a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university. No specific major is required, but students must complete courses in biology, chemistry, physics and math to get into medical school, as well as get good grades, have high MCAT scores and provide glowing letters of recommendation. After college, students complete four years of medical school. The first two years are spent immersed in classroom and laboratory work, while the last two are spent rotating through various specialties, including internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, geriatrics and psychology. During year two, medical school students must pass Part 1 of the USMLE, or United States Medical Licensing Exam, in order to progress to the second half of medical school. During year four, students must pass Part 2 of the USMLE to receive a MD or DO degree upon graduation.
Internship and Residency
A one-year hospital internship in internal medicine or family practice, followed by a three-year residency in pediatrics, is required of pediatricians. During internship and residency, doctors are paid a small salary, and work from 80 to 100 hours per week. Learning occurs through a variety of methods, including supervised clinical practice, as well as mandatory attendance at lectures, conferences and seminars. Halfway through their residency, doctors must pass Part 3 of the USMLE, in order to become licensed to practice medicine.
Some pediatricians go on to complete a one- to two-year fellowship for additional training in a sub-specialty. Pediatric sub-specialties include pediatric cardiology, adolescent medicine, developmental-behavioral pediatrics, pediatric emergency medicine, pediatric gastroenterology and pediatric endocrinology, to name a few.
Pediatricians are certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. General certification requires proof of completing a pediatrics residency and passing the certification exam. For sub-specialty certification, applicants have to present proof of completing the appropriate fellowship and passing the subsequent sub-specialty certification exam.
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