Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant
(NP, FNP, PNP, NNP, PA, PA-C, )
If the time or responsibility commitment seems a bit steep for you to venture into becoming a pediatrician, you might want to consider a career in Pediatrics as a Physician Assistant or a Nurse Practitioner. Both professionals have similar (but not always identical) legal rights in each state, but the schooling and training requirements are much less lengthy than that of a Pediatrician.
PAs can pursue any specialty they wish in medicine, much like a physician does after completing medical school. PAs obtain the ability to practice medicine by completing PA school, which is either an accelerated 4 year bachelors degree program (all 4 years of college are at a specific PA school) or a 2 year master degree level program (graduate school) after completing a bachelors degree at university or college.
After completing PA school, PAs become eligible to take a "certifying exam" provided by a national organization that credentials them as "board certified" (the PA-C credential indicates "Physician Assistant, Certified").
Nurse Practitioners (NP, Pediatric NP, Neonatal NP)
NPs are trained from the nursing perspective. They must first complete an RN program to become Registered Nurses. Then, either after employment and experience as an RN or immediately after becoming an RN, they pursue clinical and coursework training for 1-2 more years in a Nurse Practitioner program.
NP programs are specific one the advanced training past an RN degree is started. For example, "FNPs" are Family Nurse Practitioners that are trained in the "Family Medicine" mode, to include caring for infants, children and adults of all ages. Others, such as Pediatric NPs focus all of their training on care of infants and children, in the "Pediatrician" mode. And Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNP) are RNs that obtain further training in caring for healthy and often sick newborns, typically working in and around a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with Neonatologists (MD or DO Pediatrician Sub-specialists).
Most Nurse Practitioners have complete prescribing rights and responsibilities as PAs (states actually do vary as to actual practice rights, though). They work with a supervising physician (MD or DO) that helps guide, direct, and oversee the accuracy and quality of their care. They are often very skilled practitioners within their field of focus, particularly Neonatal Nurse Practitioners.