Pediatric surgeons tend to patients from tiny to teen, providing surgical intervention to treat a variety of conditions. "Attending" surgeons are physicians who have completed all the necessary education and training required for their specialty. The attending pediatric surgeon is the individual in charge of a patient's surgical care. The median salary for a pediatric surgery is $430,324 annually. Median salary means half in the profession earn more, while half earn less.
A pediatric surgeon treats children with illnesses, injuries and diseases that require surgery. Their patients range in age from newborn to adolescence. Children are not just small adults. They can be frightened and uncooperative, and they may not always be able to tell the doctor what's wrong. The pediatric surgeon must examine and treat children in a way that is calming and reassuring. Pediatric surgeons have expertise in neonatal and prenatal care, traumatic injury and pediatric oncology. A relatively new and highly specialized field is fetal surgery. In some cases, a fetal surgeon performs surgery on an infant still in the womb when surgery after birth is deemed too risky.
A pediatric surgeon is a physician who has completed four years of medical school and additional training in the specialty.
Medical school requires four years of intense study beyond the bachelor's degree. Participation in a specific premed program is not required, but students should choose a major that provides them a solid foundation in life sciences, mathematics, chemistry, physics and psychology. Medical school admissions are competitive. Successful candidates have strong letters of recommendation, a grade point average of around 3.7, and a score of 510 or higher on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).
The four years of medical school include lecture and laboratory courses in subjects such as pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, histology, pathology, biochemistry and microbiology. In the last two years of medical school, students complete supervised clinical rotations through various medical specialties to gain experience and to help them make choices for their future area of practice.
After medical school, aspiring pediatric surgeons must complete a five-year residency in general surgery, followed by two years of residency in pediatric surgery. Pediatric surgeons must first become board certified in general surgery before fulfilling the requirements for board certification as pediatric surgeons. Doctors must earn continuing education hours, offered through seminars and specialty conferences, to renew board certification every 10 years.
Pediatric surgeons work in community hospitals, children's hospitals and medical centers affiliated with universities. Because pediatric surgery is a highly specialized practice, most surgeons work in large urban areas. Patients' families do not schedule appointments directly with pediatric surgeons, but are referred by primary care doctors and pediatricians. Some pediatric surgeons teach medical students and residents.
Salary and Job Outlook
Salaries for pediatric surgeons usually range between $347,676 and $539,011. Earnings can vary, according to geographic location, employer, years of experience and other factors.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics makes projections for all physicians and surgeons as a single category. There is no distinction by specialty practice The bureau predicts job growth of 13 percent through 2026, which is considered faster than average compared to all other jobs. As the U.S. population increases, the need for medical and surgical care will also increase.