How to Become a Pediatrician

a pediatrician examines a child

Pediatricians are physicians who specialize in the care and treatment of all children under the age of 18.

Pediatricians are specifically concerned with preventative healthcare in the form of immunizations, tracking adolescent development, treating child illness and disorders, and fostering healthy lifestyles. If you think you may want to be a pediatrician someday, then it’s important to know what steps you need to take to make it happen.

Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree

All pediatricians, as physicians, have to go to medical school, and the first step to getting into medical school is going to college and earning a bachelor’s degree. While there aren’t required majors to get into medical school, there are prerequisite courses that most medical schools require from their applicants and classes you’ll need to take to pass the MCAT. Generally speaking, pre-med track majors like biochemistry, biology, chemistry, or molecular biology, are great majors for medical school applicants.

Take the MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), is the standardized test that medical schools use to judge applicants. This test analyzes your reasoning skills and tests the knowledge you’ve learned through your prerequisite courses in college. Typically, seniors in college take this test for admission to medical school in their last semester of college. This enables students to go straight from college into medical school.

Go to Medical School

Typically, medical school is a four-year process that ends with you taking licensing exams and then moving on to complete a residency. In medical school, you will complete advanced sciences class as well as ethics classes and hands-on training.

Pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE)

The USMLE exam is a two-part licensing exam that tests your academic and cognitive skills and then tests your hands-on practical skills that you’ve learned during medical school. This exam is extremely important because it decides whether or not you can go on to complete your residency or whether you must spend another year interning and studying to take the exam again.

Complete a Three-Year Residency

Once you have been licensed to practice medicine, you will start a three-year residency program in pediatrics. Pediatrics is a competitive subspecialty, so you’ll want to work extra-hard during medical school to land a pediatric residency. Your residency is where you’ll learn the advanced skills and background you need to have a good career as a pediatrician. After you’ve completed a residency, you can apply for jobs in private practices and hospitals.

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