Medical Specialists Dedicated to Serving Kids and Their Families
Kids are not just short adults. They have unique needs, and, as every mother knows, keeping them healthy is as important as treating them when they are sick. Pediatricians play a vital role in helping parents maintain the well-being of their children. There are more part-time options for pediatricians than for other medical specialists so you, as a provider, can spend more time with your own family.
A pediatrician is a medical doctor who manages the physical, mental and emotional care of infants, children and young adults (usually up to age 21). As trained specialists, pediatricians provide preventive health maintenance for healthy children and diagnose and treat those with short-term or long-term illnesses. They not only work with their young patients but also with families, educators and other health care professionals.
Becoming a pediatrician requires a degree from an accredited medical school (as either a doctor of medicine, or M.D., or doctor of osteopathy, or D.O.) plus three years of post-graduate residency. Practitioners generally start with a bachelor's degree that includes coursework in mathematics, life sciences, chemistry, physics, social sciences, English and communications. An undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.6 or higher is necessary for admission to medical school along with letters of recommendation and an acceptable score on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), typically taken at the end of junior year.
The first year of medical school consists of lectures and labs in advanced life sciences and clinical practice. Beginning in the second year, medical students participate in clinical rotations and study topics such as pathology, pharmacology, medical law and ethics, and health care policies. In the third and fourth years, students assume greater responsibilities in clinical settings and have the opportunity to complete rotations in a number of specialties to gain experience.
After finishing medical school and the pediatric residency, a pediatrician is eligible to take the American Board of Pediatrics Certification Exam, which must be retaken every seven years to maintain the credential. Licensure is required in all states; board certification is not required but may enhance employment opportunities. Continuing education courses, sponsored by medical schools, the American Board of Pediatrics and other professional organizations, are recommended for doctors to keep up-to-date on the latest research and practice.
Additional training and residency are required for pediatric subspecialties, such as immunology, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, development and behavior, critical care, and neonatal care.
Pediatricians work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practice, the military, schools, health maintenance organizations, community health centers and public health clinics. More pediatricians work as salaried employees of group medical practices than in solo practices. Although most pediatricians work full-time, some primary care pediatricians practice part-time, an arrangement that may suit working mothers. Reliable childcare is a must, especially if you'll be on call nights and weekends.
Years of Experience
The median salary for a pediatrician is $191,329 annually. Geographic location and type of practice affect earnings, as do years of experience. Here are some salary ranges, as reported by Salary.com:
- 0‒1 year experience: $173,329‒$187,656
- 5‒6 years' experience: $175,166‒$189,493
- 10‒14 years' experience: $182,145‒$198,207
- 20+ years' experience: $188,758‒$208,075
Job Growth Trend
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth will be about 10 percent over the next decade, which is higher than average compared to other occupations. The growing population along with advances in medical research will contribute to the upward trend.
Denise Dayton, M.Ed., M.S. teaches career readiness and workplace success, along with other business courses, at a small college in New England.