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As a pediatrician, you will be in charge of maintaining the health and well-being of our most precious resource -- our children. With a job this important, the path to becoming a pediatrician is of course challenging and lengthy. But the reward of working with children and pursuing your passion can be well worth the time it takes to get there.
Graduate with a bachelor's degree from an accredited undergraduate university. Many students choose premed majors, but you can become a pediatrician with any major. Just make sure that you take classes that will help prepare you for the Medical College Admission Test. These should include biology, genetics, chemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, organic chemistry, physics and math. Medical schools like to see well-rounded applicants, so you should spend some time volunteering with children to demonstrate your interest in the field.
Pediatricians also need to graduate from a four-year accredited medical school. The first two years of medical school are focused on basic skills and the last two years turn to on-hand patient practice. During your last two years, you will choose pediatrics as your specialty and completely any required courses in that field. During your last year of medical school, you will take elective rotations that can take place in different parts of the country.
After you finish medical school, you will apply for a residency in pediatrics, usually at a hospital. A three-year accredited residency in pediatrics is required to become a pediatrician. You will study different pediatric illnesses, inpatient and outpatient methods, and different types of pediatric care such as acute care and neonatal intensive care. The residency training will be difficult as you will begin to be responsible for children who are very sick. You will work long hours, sometimes 80 to 100 hours a week on a minimal salary.
Take the required General Pediatrics Certifying Examination to be certified to practice pediatric medicine. To sit for this exam, you will need a medical school degree, pediatric residency training and a license to practice medicine. The exam is a one-day, seven hour multiple-choice test.
Employment for physicians in general is expected to grow by 24 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is faster than the national average job growth, so employment for all physicians, including pediatricians, has a positive outlook. California, Texas, New York, Massachusetts and Ohio had the most pediatricians in 2011, according to the BLS.
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With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.