How to Become A Pediatrician

Medical Specialties


What is a Pediatrician? 

If you want to care for one—or all—of these groups of individuals, pediatrics may be your ideal career decision:

  • Infants
  • Children
  • Adolescents

Despite the common belief that a pediatrician mostly relates to the care of smaller children, these experts can actually offer the most beneficial treatment for people up to 21 years of age.

The necessity for this specialized field derives from two important aspects.

Biological differences

The differences between a developing and a developed organism. Pediatricians know how to treat conditions while keeping in mind that the patient is still maturing and changing all the time. Symptoms will be different compared to adults who contract the same medical problems. The ideal treatment will make allowances for changes in the body.

Psychological differences

Children’s ability to make beneficial decisions is limited. A pediatrician therefore requires knowledge about how legislature influences what parents need to decide on their behalf. It means a case never focuses on only the patient, but rather the family.

This dynamic changes when a child becomes an adolescent, as this age group does have certain rights. A pediatrician must have knowledge about these regulations, so patients’ rights are adhered to at all times.

A pediatrician can specialize in many fields, so they can focus on a specific cause close to their hearts, such as

  • Neonatology – relating to newborns
  • Adolescent medicine
  • Pediatric critical care
  • Child abuse pediatrics

You can see the field is quite vast. Will it be something you’ll enjoy?

Duties of Pediatrician

You should choose your area of expertise in line with the duties you’ll most enjoy. This will ensure more job satisfaction.

Duties can include:

1. Providing Consultations:

Consulting with other medical experts if a case requires their expertise

2. Advertising Patients:

Advising parents on how to improve caring for their children, related to health concerns

3. Regular Checkup:

Regular checkups help monitor children’s development and growth

4. Immunization Procedures:

Immunizations often become part of a doctor’s treatment of toddlers

5. Medical Care:

General medical care to children and adolescents

6. Examining Patients:

Examining patients brought in by adults

Bonuses and Benefits of Pediatrician

Apart from experiencing job satisfaction for helping young people remain healthy, pediatricians are drawn by the many benefits of the job. This is enough motivation to commit to long periods of study, as well as long, intense work hours:

  • In flexible environments pediatricians can enjoy weekends and holidays off
  • When employed, hospitals or medical centers provide paid time off
  • Salary packages include contributions to:
  1. Retirement plans
  2. Health plans
  3. Dental insurance
  4. Life insurance
  • Female pediatricians are entitled to maternity leave

These medical experts can attend conferences related to their fields. They will still be paid for this time off and may even receive compensation for expenses, as their acquired knowledge may benefit the medical facility they work for.

Apart from the monetary benefits, the field is attractive thanks to these characteristics:

  • According to the BMC Health Services Research, it’s one of the occupations with the highest rates of job satisfaction. This relates to being in touch with children who tend to brighten up people’s days, as well as feeling connected with families by helping them
  • The skills can be applied in various environments and specialties, so you can align your career path with your natural interests
  • The variety of applications means you’ll never become bored in this field
  • This is a medical field where lower levels of stress are reported when compared to that of general physicians

It’s therefore possible to achieve career success, have a balanced lifestyle and experience satisfaction after a day’s work. Let’s see what environments you can opt to function in.

Work Environment of Pediatrician

General Environment


Pediatricians rarely work with patients alone, as their patients’ parents must be part of all decisions regarding treatment. These consultations can take place in offices or hospital rooms.

Because of the unique group of patients, many pediatricians’ rooms are decorated to suit children’s interests, such as:

  • Providing books to read or toys to play with
  • Painting in bright colors
  • Using childlike themes for decoration

This is all done to help put patients at their ease.

Despite the cheerfulness, these rooms aren’t trouble free. Children tend to be rowdy and won’t behave as calmly as adults. It’s also more challenging to get accurate information from them to make a diagnosis.

The work is usually done with the help of staff such as nurses and administrative personnel. They help with patient preparation and paperwork.

Office Environment


You’ll find over 90% of pediatricians in private office surroundings. This is according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A pediatrician is licensed to start a practice on their own but can also join forces with other physicians in a similar or different field. This makes it easier to manage expenses and schedules, as they can cover shifts for each other.



If you’re a pediatrician your assistance is vital in any hospital. Children arrive with serious illnesses and your expertise will help the staff treat them effectively, appropriate to their stages of development.

The benefit of these job opportunities is that you’ll be part of a group of staff members. Nurses, other experts, and administrative personnel help get the work done.

Apart from general hospitals, pediatricians also join the staff of children’s hospitals.

Social Environment


This is one of the most enjoyable environments physicians can find themselves in. Yes, it’s heartbreaking to see small children suffer, but on the other hand, it’s fulfilling to be the person that helps the family find solutions.

In this role a pediatrician becomes a confidante, friend, and helper to the family. Being in contact with these people makes the job very social. You can even feel part of the local community since you’re helping families and you get to know them.

Pediatricians must also confer with other physicians of a case requires the attention of a specialist. Therefore, pediatricians’ work is almost never done in isolation.

Academia and Other


The skills of pediatrics need to be communicated to the next generation of physicians. Therefore, teaching will always form part of the job opportunities for pediatricians. However, only a small portion of professionals opt to do this.

Offices of Physicians


Most pediatricians find themselves in private practice. One reason for the popularity of this is because the salary is remarkably higher than when working in hospitals.

Pediatricians need to source and maintain their own offices. They can do this on their own, or form partnerships with other doctors to share the responsibilities and expenses, such as leasing premises and hiring staff. This also makes it easier to maintain a healthy life balance, as partners can cover shifts, so you can put in leave or attend to personal matters.

In private practice, children and adolescents are brought to the offices according to scheduled bookings. Pediatricians can decide what hours they want to be available, so they don’t have to work evenings or weekends.

Care Centers


Some pediatricians work in outpatient care centers. This may relate to children recovering from diseases. However, this isn’t a very popular area of work.

Working Hours of Pediatrician

A pediatrician’s week can be divided into two categories:

  • Working hours in hospitals or private practice can total up to 50 hours per week
  • Community work—giving treatment to those less fortunate—make up around six hours of most pediatricians’ weeks

Especially in private practice, these hours can be flexible.

These hours can relate to normal working hours, but in terms of emergencies and serious illnesses, their services are also required at night and over weekends. Their employment contracts—or private practice guidelines—determine their schedules.

Work Schedules of Pediatrician

If you’re a pediatrician in a private practice environment, you’ll have the privilege of scheduling your working hours around your other life responsibilities. Emergencies will seldom form part of your work, as less urgent matters are usually tended to in doctors’ rooms.

This changes when you’re part of hospital staff. You’ll be on call during certain hours—including weekends and holidays—during which you have to assist in emergencies.

Important Qualities of Pediatrician

You can imagine working with children requires a unique set of skills compared to what’s found in many other physician roles. Here are some that will both enhance patient experience and make it easier for these medical experts to get the job done efficiently.


Creativity and deductive reasoning

It’s more difficult to get answers from a child than an adult. Infants can’t verbalize their problems, so you have to find the source of the problem by looking closely at the symptoms, the patient’s reactions, and test results. Older children may respond, but you must find creative ways of getting them to trust you. You fast track the diagnosis process by getting accurate feedback.

Expert communications skills

During this search for facts, you’ll have to be exceptional at communicating. Seeming distant will break down trust a child has for you. And only through trust will you get lots of information from them. You’ll also be faced with multiple individuals (the family) in one room and you have to control the situation and communicate with all of them without becoming overwhelmed. This calls for expert listening skills, so you can read between the lines and realize what a person is really telling you.


This interesting environment of treating an entire family at once, requires multi-tasking. You may have to comfort a parent while you’re trying to find symptoms in the child. Or perhaps you’ll have to use stories to let a child relax, while you’re administering treatment.

Love for children

This field caters only for children. Not all people are naturally able to communicate on their level.


This daily working with children must be attempted with patience. You’ll take longer to make a diagnosis, because it will require more time to extract information from patients. They won’t know what’s relevant to the case, so you need to take time and guide them with the right questions. Even treatment will take longer, because children will be daunted by the processes. It’s your responsibility to help keep them calm and perhaps wait a few minutes until they’re ready for the needles in their arms.

Exhuming confidence

Few things in life is as daunting as having a sick child. A pediatrician should help parents feel safer and more secure by seeming in control of the situation. This will benefit everyone, as children will stay calmer as long as parents don’t overreact.


While seeming confident, you must also understand how to let parents feel you place their child’s well-being first. When you talk to them with humility, instead of seeming distant or pompous, they’ll be more trusting of your decisions. This will help them trust your opinion, so decisions about treatment can be quickly made.

Management and administrative skills

Whether you’re in private practice or working at a hospital, paperwork is vital to the processes. This can pertain to patient records, ordering tests or providing reports. You need to handle these with care so accurate treatment happens at all times. Management also relates to managing your staff members. You won’t be doing all the tests or treatments and you must ensure they know exactly what to do.


Remember you’re working with minors. Their information can’t be disclosed to irrelevant parties. It’s also necessary to handle abuse cases with utmost care. Perhaps one person in the family needs to be reprimanded, but discretion will minimize trauma to the child and the family.

Similar Occupations

As mentioned above, the field of pediatrics is vast, but other career options also make it possible to work with children, from unique perspectives:

  • Child psychiatry
  • Child neurology
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Neonatal medicine
  • Developmental behavioral pediatrics
  • Pediatric nurse
  • Infant massage therapist
  • Pediatric physical therapist
  • Family practitioner
  • Midwife

Projected Future of a Pediatrician

Career Prospects

If you love children and the medical field, this is a perfect career to choose. While your salary won’t be as high as many other health experts’, it’s a service that will always be needed. Along with other physician jobs, there is an expected growth of 10% between 2014 and 2024.

Job Outlook

There’s no shortage of work for pediatricians since there are always children in need of medical attention.

Because of this, over 95% of pediatric residents secured a job according to 2008 statistics.

Potential Increase

Employment options for pediatricians may rise along with most other physicians and surgeons. This growth over the next four years to 2022 could be as high as 18%. This is according to BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Part of this growth can be attributed to improved health care. More people gain access to medical facilities, providing more work for these health experts.

Career Options

It’s unfortunate that despite the high demand for pediatricians, some children still don’t have access to their skills. Therefore, philanthropic pediatricians may opt to find ways of taking their skills to:

  • Rural communities
  • People in low income areas
  • Third world countries

Their expertise can help children have healthier childhoods, so they’re less likely to succumb to diseases when older. Because health education forms part of a pediatrician’s duties, they can impact people’s futures.

How to Become a Pediatrician

As with all medical careers, the path to becoming a pediatrician is long. One reason this career path is so long is because you must get experience of a wide range of medical challenges. Any one of the diseases seen in a hospital—and for which other doctors specialize—may be contracted by a child. You’ll need to know how to identify the problem, treat it and when it’s necessary to consult with a specialist.

Here’s how you get this title:

1. A bachelor’s degree in medicine

First, you need a bachelor’s degree, so you can apply for a medical study program.

2. Medical school

Once this is done, you will need to go to medical school and your medical degree will focus on:

  • Advanced science
  • Legislature pertaining to medicine
  • Ethics
  • Psychology
  • Pharmacology
  • Laboratory work
  • Hospital experience

3. Work in hospital

Your residency program of three years will focus on pediatrics. You need to rotate and gain experience in many different environments, dealing with children of all ages

4. State-licensing exam

A license is needed to practice as well as affiliation with pediatrics authorities, such as American Board of Pediatrics. The latter is necessary to open up more job opportunities, as certain employers require this

This isn’t just saving people. It’s creating a healthier next generation. Through helping them to stay healthy, but also follow healthier lifestyles, you can influence their futures. And as a bonus you get access to their families’ ears, so you can help them too. A pediatrician not only provides a momentary solution, but a long-term impact.

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