Do you like working with children and enjoy being part of the medical community? Then you might consider becoming a pediatrician. These doctors work with children who are under the age of 18, however sometimes that provide medical assistance to adults who have child illnesses. Obviously, this is a very rewarding profession, however keep in mind that it requires a lot of education, practical training and stamina on your part.
You’ll need a high school diploma or GED equivalent and have passed your college entrance exam (SAT/ACT) to get into a bachelor’s program. If you have a fair amount of science coursework behind you from high school, this is a good thing because you’ll have to take pre-med courses in your first two years of college. Pre-med course include but not limited to two terms of calculus, two terms of physics, inorganic chemistry and two terms of organic chemistry. If you are not strong in science, you might need to do a rethink on this career. Your 3rd and 4th year will be filled with your major. A lot of students going for a medical degree often major in biology. In that case, your last two years of your bachelor’s degree will be filled with courses such as biology, cell, anatomy and physiology, developmental biology, molecular biology, immunology and possibly biochemistry to name a few. It’s important that you make good grades. Your grade point average (GPA) should be at least a 3.5 with a 4.0 is perfect.
Before you can apply to med school, you’ll need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Make sure you practice for this test before you take it. You need a high score on it. Med school is highly competitive and only the best students that apply will be accepted. There are booklets available that you can buy to practice with and in some places it is possible to take a course in it.
Once you have your MCAT score you can apply to med school. You’ll need to forward your transcripts, MCAT score, write a letter of intent (essay) and provide at least 3 letters of recommendation. If the med school is interested, they will schedule an interview with you. The interview is important. See if you can talk with a doctor to get an idea of the types of questions they ask and the kind of answers they are looking for. If all goes well, you’ll be accepted into med school and begin taking medical coursework.
Med school runs four years and your first two years will include coursework such as anatomy and physiology, chemistry, gross anatomy, pharmacology to mention a few. Your 3rd and 4th years you’ll pull rotations to get hands-on patient practice in a wide range of medical fields. You’ll be able to determine your area of specialty at this time which you will pursue during your residency.
Once you complete med school, you’ll need to complete a three year pediatric residency. You’ll continue hands-on experience in a more advanced way and learn more about how to interact with patients and learn how to manage business. Many pediatricians have their own private practice so they need to be able to literally run a business. Private practice is far more than diagnosing and treating patients. Residency is generally done in a hospital or clinic. You’ll be working around the clock so there will be no time for family or friends.
Once you finish your residency, you need to get board certified. Certification can be obtained from the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) or the American Osteopathic Board of Pediatrics (AOBP). You need this certificate to practice being a pediatrician. You can check with your state to find out what is required in terms of examinations as each state varies somewhat. You now on your way to being able to practice being a pediatrician whether that is in a clinic, hospital or set up your own private practice.
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Susan has studied at the University of Texas Medical Branch Marine Biomedical Institute in Galveston, Texas and the University of South Florida in Tampa and received a Ph.D. in Biology with a major in Neuroscience and minors in physics and mathematics. Area of research is in brain transplantation and behavior testing with twenty years of teaching experience. Fields of interest include the physical basis of memory and learning, brain repair and regeneration as well as neuro-development. As an educator, has taught thousands of students at the college level in anatomy and physiology, biology, microbiology, marinebiology, nutrition, communications, radiography, ultrasound, mathematics and physics. She enjoys reading current scientific literature and simplifying the material making it readily available to the public.