Pediatrician Training Programs and Requirements

Dec 29, 2020

Pediatrician Education Requirements

Pediatrics is the branch of medicine concerned with the health and well-being of children from birth through age 21. A career in pediatrics can be rewarding and challenging. Where does pediatrician education begin?

Requirement Considerations
Step One Pre-Med Your pre-med training consists of an undergraduate degree in a relevant field. During this step you should focus on both curricular requirements and creating a well-rounded profile, including activities such as volunteering and participating in biomedical research. You should also take the MCAT, the medical school admissions exam, approximately 18 months before you hope to attend medical school.
Step Two Medical School Choose a medical school that meets the certification requirements set out by the American Board of Pediatrics.
Step Three Residency Your residency will involve three years of training in pediatric medicine, including general comprehensive pediatric training, increased patient care responsibility, and supervision responsibility.
Step Four Licensing Exam Take and pass the USMLE, or U.S. Medical Licensing Examination.
Step Five Fellowships After completing pediatric training, you have the option to pursue a fellowship in one of numerous pediatric subspecialties, honing your skills and earning an additional certification in a specific area of pediatric health.

Those seeking a career as a pediatrician must follow the same medical training regime as other doctors. After completing a bachelor's degree and taking their MCAT, most pediatrician candidates pursue medical degrees from an accredited medical school. Pediatricians may choose between pursuing a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. Both offer general medical knowledge and the opportunity to specialize in pediatrics, and culminate with internships and residencies. Candidates who wish to pursue a sub-specialty area, such as pediatric cardiology, pediatric pulmonology, or pediatric emergency care, can complete additional fellowships. Upon graduation, pediatricians must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) in order to practice as physicians.

Pediatrician Training

What does a pediatrician training program look like? Training in pediatrics involves basic instruction in general medicine as well as specific training in pediatric topics.

Doctor of Medicine in Pediatrics

Individuals interested in pursuing a M.D. degree program should verify its accreditation with the national accrediting agency, Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). Medical students learn how to document medical histories, perform patient exams, and diagnose acute or chronic illnesses. Students specializing in a pediatric sub-specialty dedicate additional coursework and clinical rotations to that specialty and gain certification through the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS). Courses may include:

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

Prospective medical students interested in preventive medicine, holistic patient care, and musculoskeletal systems may wish to enroll in a D.O. program. This type of medical degree not only includes traditional M.D. coursework, but also emphasizes the role locomotor systems have in overall health and well-being. Possible course topics include:

  • Homeopathic remedies
  • Preventive care techniques

Pediatrician training involves working with children and babies.

Pediatric Subspecialties

There are two basic ways for a pediatrician to become a pediatric specialist.

1. After obtaining certification in general pediatrics, a candidate can pursue a fellowship in a specific specialty area and earn a subspecialty certification. Some examples of subspecialties include:

Adolescent Medicine Pediatric Cardiology Child Abuse Pediatrics
Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Pediatric Rheumatology
Pediatric Emergency Medicine Pediatric Endocrinology Pediatric Gastroenterology
Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Pediatric Hospital Medicine Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Pediatric Nephrology Pediatric Pulmonology

2. A board-licensed physician in a discipline other than pediatrics can pursue pediatric training in order to learn how to effectively apply their specialty to children from birth through age 21.

Pediatrician Requirements

Every state in the U.S requires pediatricians to be licensed in order to practice medicine. This licensure involves taking and passing the USMLE. In order to sit for the exam, all candidates must meet pediatrician education requirements - they must graduate from an accredited medical school. Additional specialty certifications may be granted by the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) upon meeting residency criteria for respective specialties.

Pediatricians often work irregular hours and are required to handle stressful medical situations. They work closely with partnering physicians, nurses, and other medical support staff. Good bedside manner is important for pediatricians, who must build a rapport with patients and their families over years of check-ups and during critical times.

Prospective doctors can find pediatrician training through a Doctor of Medicine in Pediatrics degree or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. In addition to earning a degree, pediatricians must be licensed in order to practice in all fifty states.

Pediatrician Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), general pediatricians make a median annual salary of $184,410 as of May 2019. Employment projections from the BLS suggest that between 2019 and 2029, the number of general pediatricians may decline slightly, while the number of pediatric specialists may experience a slight increase.

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