General - As a Pediatrician, you will ALWAYS be
After high school, you need 4 years of undergraduate courses
at a college or university (which will get you a BS, BA, or
other Bachelor's degree). After completing college, you will
need to attend 4 years of Medical School (which will get you
an MD or DO degree). After this, you are a "general"
doctor. Most of the time, these new doctors go on to learn a
specialty in medicine, such as pediatrics. This entails at
least 3 more years of "Residency" training (the
first year of residency was formerly called an
"Internship"). In the case of pediatrics, the
training of residency is 3 years. After completing these 3
years, you are now a pediatrician and are "eligible"
to become "certified" in pediatrics by passing a
rigorous test that deals with medical conditions related to
infants and children. This is the ultimate goal of a
Bottom line: 4 years college + 4 years medical school + 3
years of residency = 11 years (after high school).
this is where it really begins.
Classes: Basic Sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, algebra,
geometry, calculus if possible).
Humanities (English, a foreign language - we'd recommend
Get involved in high school charity organizations, like the
Key Club, and extracurricular programs like student
government, music programs, and sports.
Plan to get into the best 4-year college your grades allow.
The better (and thus the harder) the more likely you are to
get into medical school. It generally doesn't matter whether
it is a big school or small school - just a good school.
Bottom Line: Develop good study habits and be involved!
College- makes you or breaks you!
Most students take a "Premed" curriculum - which
includes some basic science courses. Most colleges have a
"Premed" advisor - a professor who you are linked
with who helps guide those students interested in going on to
medical school in their course choices, major choices, etc.
Although some universities have a "Premed" major,
most allow you to major in ANY area of your interest. Music
majors, Philosophy majors, and English majors often make the
best medical school candidates (meaning you don't need a
"Premed" major, Chemistry major or Biology major).
You simply need to fulfill the basic science course
requirements that most medical schools recommend. These
Biology - 1-2 courses of basic, 1 course of genetics, 1 course
of microbiology, 1 course of molecular biology.
Chemistry - 1-2 courses in basic, 1-2 courses of Organic
Physics - 1 course in basic.
Math - 2 courses in calculus.
Medical schools LOVE to see volunteer activities during
college - such as Circle K, volunteering at your local
hospital or homeless shelter, etc. It is important to show you
have an interest in the medical field by working in some
manner around medical people - whether it is getting a summer
job in a pharmacy or in a nursing home as a nurse's aide.
Sometime in your Junior or early Senior year in college you
will need to prepare and take the MCAT (Medical College
Admission Test), which tests your abilities in the natural
sciences. It is much like the SAT is for college
entrance…but much harder! Good scores on this test don't
guarantee entrance into medical school, but it certainly helps
you out (see How To Get
Into Medical School: THE BOTTOM LINE!).
Bottom Line: Be sure you are up for the challenge of
medical school by taking on the challenge to do well in
college - and you must do well!
(or Medical College) - you've made it!
Once you are in medical school, almost 99% of the time, you
will complete the program and become a doctor. The first two
years are focused on basic medical sciences, like human
anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, pharmacology,
neuroanatomy, etc. The second two years focus on clinical
sciences, where you start to really get "hands-on"
experience with patients. These courses include Internal
Medicine, Radiology, Cardiology, Surgery, Emergency Medicine,
OB/GYN, etc. (and Pediatrics!).
Sometime during your 3rd or 4th year of medical school, you
will decide on a specialty area of medicine. Specialties are
divided into "Primary Care" specialties, like Family
Practice, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics; and
"Subspecialty Care", like surgery, orthopedics,
cardiology, neurosurgery, gastroenterology, etc.). Your
exposure to these fields during your 3rd and 4th years will
give you direction and confirmation as to whether Pediatrics
is indeed your best choice.
Bottom Line: You learn more than you ever thought you could
Once done with Medical School, you are now officially a
doctor. Your skills will now be refined, and if you choose
Pediatrics, you will enjoy the wonderful and challenging world
of dealing with and treating children.
This will be the most difficult 3 years of your training, and
likely, of your life! You start becoming more and more
responsible for the care of patients -often extremely sick
patients in the hospital with the most severe types of
illnesses. In Pediatrics, be prepared to not only deal with
fun children, but children that are ill, often severely so; be
prepared to deal with anxious parents - some rightly so,
others unrightly so - regardless, you must deal with them
professionally and compassionately.
Your heart will be tugged, torn, and broken: tugged by the
courage that children show when faced with needles, surgery,
and spinal taps; torn by having to witness the unconditional
devotion that parents have in loving their children through
their illnesses, and sometimes through their death; and broken
by children that don't always survive their illness.
Along with the emotional challenges you will face, there will
be physical challenges as well. Expect long hours, 80-100
hours per week, minimum wage salaries (at least you start to
get paid in residency instead of paying tuition), time away
from your family, and little time for social life outside of
It is challenging - but you will learn the skills necessary to
become comfortable and competent in providing care to sick
children of all degrees. You will develop confidence that you
thought you'd never have, and an unmatched respect for the
miracle of life and the power of love.
And finally, you may wish to sub-specialize - 2 or more years of
"Fellowship" training beyond Residency to focus your pediatric medical
skills - READ MORE!
College - 4 years: $ 40,000 - $160,000 total
Medical School - 4 years: $100,000 - $160,000 total
Residency - 3 years: Income of $30,000 - $45,000/year
Bottom Line: It costs lots and lots of money!
Residency - $30,000-$45,000/year
Starting after Residency - $100,000-$140,000
Average Pediatrician - $155,000
Range - $80,000 (part time) - $300,000 (very busy)
Pediatric Career Center
Steven J. Halm, DO, FAAP