Approximately 28,490 pediatricians are employed in the United States. The majority of pediatricians in the United States are involved in direct patient care. Of these, about one-third have private practices. The others work in group practices, community clinics, hospitals, university-affiliated medical centers, and health maintenance organizations. Only about 10 percent of pediatricians work in administration, teaching, or research.
There are no shortcuts to entering the medical profession. Requirements are an M.D. or D.O. degree, a licensing examination, a one- or two-year internship, and a three-year residency. Upon completing this program, which may take up to 15 years, pediatricians are then ready to enter practice.
For the pediatrician who plans to set up a private practice, it is wise to consult with his or her medical school placement office to find a suitable geographic location in which to do so. Certain locations, such as rural areas and small towns, offer less competition for patients and, therefore, better chances of success.
Many newly licensed pediatricians take salaried jobs until they can pay off some of their medical school debt, which is likely to total more than $100,000. Medical school placement offices should be able to recommend hospitals, clinics, HMOs, and group practices that are hiring pediatricians.
The most common method of advancement for pediatricians is subspecialization. There are several subspecialties open to the pediatrician who is willing to spend the additional time training for one. A subspecialty requires three more years of residency training.
Some pediatricians pursue careers in research. Possible research activities include developing new vaccines for infections, developing treatments for children with heart disease, and developing treatments for infants born with severe abnormalities.
Another way for pediatricians to advance is to move into the field of education, where they can teach medical students and resident physicians about particular areas of pediatrics.
Tips for Entry
Learn more about medical school by visiting Association of American Medical Colleges' Web site, https://www.aamc.org.
Call a local pediatrician's office and ask if you can arrange an informational interview with the pediatrician.
You will need to take the Medical College Admission Test to get into medical school. Learn more about the test by visiting https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/taking-mcat-exam/prepare-mcat-exam.
Take a part-time or summer job working with children. Pediatricians must understand and interact well with babies, children, and teens.