Neonatology is the practice of medicine that deals specifically with infants. Since it is a subspecialty within the pediatrics field, students complete their training in pediatrics and then obtain additional training in neonatology. Students gain a foundation for study through undergraduate courses before entering medical school, where students will take courses more directly related to medical practice. After medical school, students participate in internship and residency programs where they are introduced to the nuances of neonatology.
During your undergraduate years, you will take courses in preparation for medical school. Though there is no specific undergraduate degree required for medical school, a major that is heavy in the sciences, such as biology, chemistry or physics, will help ensure that you are taking the classes you’ll need. Most medical programs require you to have taken courses in chemistry, biology, organic chemistry and physics regardless of your major. English and calculus courses are also typically required.
First Year Medical School Courses
Medical students jump right in their first year with courses that build a foundation in both medical practice and clinical skills. Many programs start off focusing on normal systems and functions of the body. Courses typically cover subjects such as nutrition and health, genetics, cell and tissues, immunology, microbiology and infectious disease.
Second Year Medical School Courses
The second year of medical school tends to be much like the first year in intensity and course loads. However, the focus of the courses may shift more to abnormal systems and functions. Coursework typically covers the cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, reproductive and renal systems. Students may also take courses in oncology and hematology. Student see patients under supervision throughout the first two years and learn to complete physical exams and patient histories.
During the final two years of medical school, students complete their clinical internships. Typically, students will rotate through medical specialties, including pediatrics, where they may begin to get some exposure to neonatology. Students gradually take over more responsibility for patient care, though they still work under supervision.
Residency and Fellowship Programs
After completing the medical school requirements, student enter into residency programs in their desired specialty. Those interested in neonatology will complete their residency in pediatrics. Some pediatric residency programs are offered through institutions with neonatology departments. After completing a residency and passing the medical board exams, pediatricians may wish to pursue a fellowship specific to neonatology where they work with specialists in the field on research projects to improve infant health.