Pediatrician: Career Summary, Job Outlook, and Educational Requirements

In the area of pediatrics, what does a physician do? Learn about job duties, job outlook, education, and licensing requirements for a pediatrician career to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Pediatrician Career

Pediatricians are medical doctors who diagnose, treat, examine, and prevent diseases and injuries in patients from infancy to young adulthood. They perform many of the same tasks as a general physician, such as recording medical history, ordering diagnostic tests if needed, recommending treatment plans, and addressing other health concerns. In addition to these responsibilities, pediatricians are trained in diagnosing and treating problems specific to young patients. They will try to prevent any health issues by administering vaccinations and talking with parents about proper health and preventative care. Some pediatricians may further specialize in pediatric surgery or medical conditions typically specific to their young patients. The following chart provides an overview about becoming a pediatrician.

Degree Required Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.)
Training Required 3-year residency
Licensure or Certification Licensure is required by all states; board certification is available
Key Responsibilities Examine patients; diagnose and treat medical conditions unique to children and adolescents; provide vaccinations and prescribe medication; order and analyze diagnostic tests; perform baby and child physical examinations and document progress
Job Growth (2018-2028) 2% for pediatricians, general*
Median Salary (2018) $170,560 for pediatricians, general*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Pediatrician Job Description

As a pediatrician, your primary focus is providing quality healthcare for infants, children, and adolescents. Not only do you examine young patients and diagnose and treat their injuries and illnesses, but you also monitor their development over the years to ensure proper physical and mental growth. Due to the nature of this role, you must develop your interpersonal skills so that you can communicate effectively with children and their guardians to determine the source of their discomfort or pain and select the proper treatment. Additional responsibilities include obtaining and documenting patient medical history, discussing exam results with patients and guardians, and counseling patients on proper diet, nutrition, hygiene, and lifestyle.

Pediatrician Job Outlook & Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), although the job outlook for physicians, in general, is very good for the coming years, the BLS projected only a 2% growth in employment for all pediatricians from 2018-2028. As a pediatrician, your compensation will vary by industry, location, and experience, but the BLS reported a median annual salary of $170,560 in 2018.

Pediatrician Education

To become a pediatrician, you will need to complete a four-year college degree before entering medical school. You will then spend four years working toward a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) degree. The first two years of medical school are largely comprised of classroom and laboratory learning, while the last two years involve clinical experience under the supervision of licensed physicians. Upon graduation, you'll spend a minimum of three years in residency training where you'll gain hands-on experience in your specialty before obtaining a license to practice. Additionally, many employers require you to receive a board certification through the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), one of the certifying boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Veterinarians are a related option for those interested in pursuing a doctoral or professional degree. These professionals diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses in a variety of animals, including pets and livestock. Some other, perhaps more closely related, careers in the medical field include chiropractors and optometrists. These positions also require a doctoral or professional degree. Chiropractors help patients manage back or neck pain through spinal adjustments and treatment of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, muscles and tendons. Optometrists examine, diagnose, and treat any health concerns with a patient's eye and visual system. They may also prescribe eyeglasses to improve vision.

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