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How do you become a pediatrician, and what courses can you take in high school to achieve that career?

I'm a freshman in highschool, and I'm just starting off the school year. I've been homeschooled for two yrs and I'm going back to a public school.
Just here to get advice on how to start my first year of highschool and how i can become a successful pediatrican as my future career.
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Subject: Career question for you


5 answers

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Kirby’s Answer

Hi Priscilla,

As someone who was interested in the medical field when going to college I have several pieces of advice to share with you. First, I would not worry about trying to satisfy any prerequisites to becoming a pediatrician while in high school. If your school offers AP or advanced classes I would take those in order to be challenged and potentially get credit for high school. I would not recommend taking them in order to help your career in becoming a pediatrician. Those will help you decide if you like science or not, but most often, colleges will make you retake any classes necessary to get into medical school. This is to make sure you are learning the information in order to get into medical school.

I think there is so much pressure to know what you want to do for your career and start preparing for it right away, but you have about 8 years until you apply to medical school to be a pediatrician with plenty of time to take the courses and do the activities necessary to gain experience. For now, I would enjoy your classes and take ones that interest you and challenge you and start worrying about the prerequisites in college.

I hope this helps and good luck in your freshman year!
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Yasemin’s Answer

HI Priscilla! Congrats on entering high school, it's definitely an important part of your life as it will help in transitioning you to college. That being said for now I would focus on doing well in high school, so study hard and then take your SATs as well as volunteer in some things that interest you because these will all help you in getting into college. In high school I would recommend to get involved in science related topics and/or clubs, so maybe take AP classes for biology, chemistry, or physics, etc., they are high paced and more difficult because they represent college classes but these are classes you will take in college for your premed (premedical) track. In college you take prerequisite courses and the MCAT to enter medical school, a college adviser will help you more in this path when you enter college, but afterwards in medical school you complete coursework for two years. Then afterwards you begin clinicals where you rotate different areas, around your third you take electives regarding the area of interests, which for you will be pediatrics! For now work hard and do well in high school then when you begin college take prerequisites for medical school, and prepare for the MCAT (medical exam for entering medical school, like the SATs for entering college). You still have much time but if you'd like I would recommend to check out, they give information on medical school applicants both current and future!

Best of luck!

Yasemin recommends the following next steps: (below website is direct information about HS students for medicine!)
Thank you, I'll look into the websites!! Priscilla S.
You're welcome! Yasemin G.
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Prashanth’s Answer

Hi Priscilla,

I hope you’re doing well & wish that you have a great week ahead.

Pediatricians, also known as pediatric doctors, specialize in treating ailments and illnesses of children. They treat illnesses such as strep throat, pink eye, colds and chicken pox. In addition, pediatricians help healthy children stay well. This can include administering immunizations, evaluating patients' growth and weight, and providing guidance for social, mental, and emotional health. Pediatricians might work for clinics, hospitals, or in private practice.

Pediatric Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree then M.D. or O.D.
Degree Field(s) Biological science or pre-med
Licensure/Certification Licensure required in all states; board certification available
Experience 3-6 year residency depending on specialty
Key Skills Strong verbal/written communication and problem-solving skills; empathy and knowledge of medical software to manage patients' charts

Steps to Become a Pediatrician

For individuals wondering how to become a pediatric doctor, let's take a look at the pediatrician degree plan required for employment in this industry, and how to successfully advance up the pediatrician career ladder.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Medical schools don't typically require a undergraduate degree for admission. However, medical schools do look for students who have successfully completed a college's pre-medical coursework, which can be completed through majors in math, chemistry, biology and physics. Students are also expected to have coursework in English and social sciences. A degree in biology is a common pathway for aspiring physicians, and some schools offer structured pre-medical programs that are designed to prepare students for medical school.
Accredited medical schools require applicants to take the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT for short. Students are evaluated on their knowledge of physical science and biology, cognitive skills and verbal reasoning skills. Some students take preparatory courses online or in person or form study groups to prepare for the MCAT. Additionally, undergraduate students might gain experience working with patients by volunteering at a medical facility. They can also volunteer with children in schools or after-school programs to gain experience working with young people.

Step 2: Earn a Medical Degree
Individuals will need to complete an MD or ND degree to be a pediatrician. The first two years of these medical programs are spent in a classroom, taking courses in medical procedures, body systems and disease, among other subjects. During the second half of the program, students complete clinical rotations, working with patients while supervised by a licensed physician. Clinical rotations include areas like pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and internal medicine.
Students typically complete the first part of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) prior to beginning clinical instruction and the second part of the exam after completing clinical instruction. Some states require that students complete parts one and two of the exam prior to beginning a residency. New pediatricians commonly take the last step during residency, after medical school.

Most students use the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) to obtain their residency assignment. Students should compile a broad list of pediatric residency programs and schedule interviews with them.

Step 3: Complete a Residency
In a residency, aspiring pediatricians have the opportunity to receive focused instruction related to children's medicine. Residents work hands-on with patients during clinical rotations. They assess their own work, as well as case studies, in meetings and group settings designed specifically for residents. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, a pediatric residency lasts three years. During that time, residents learn about general pediatrics and newborn care.
Students can choose from many specialties among their pediatric classes, including adolescent medicine, pediatric sports medicine, pediatric gastroenterology and neonatal-perinatal medicine. Choosing a subspecialty can extend one's residency by up to three years.
The residency can be a challenging time, and some residents must relocate for a position. Building a network can provide emotional and professional support for individuals trying to learn their profession. Joining a professional organization and seeking out mentors can help aspiring pediatricians adjust to a new lifestyle and workload.
Also, the hectic schedule of a resident can make it easy for aspiring pediatricians to sacrifice sleep, exercise, relationships and other healthy habits. However, strong relationships, as well as regular eating, sleeping and exercise habits, can help residents stay most productive. Residents should work to integrate healthy habits into their hectic lifestyles.

Step 4: Obtain a Medical License
It is required by law that pediatricians obtain a license from their state licensing board. Although requirements vary by state, all pediatricians must submit confirmation of education and training. They also must have successfully taken all three parts of the USMLE.

Step 5: Earn and Maintain Certification
The American Board of Pediatrics offers optional certification to licensed pediatricians. To be eligible for certification, applicants must have completed relevant medical training within the past seven years. Individuals who have let more than seven years lapse may be required to undergo additional training. Applicants must also take a certifying exam, which consists of 300 to 350 questions. Pediatricians can also be certified in a subspecialty by taking an additional subspecialty certifying exam.

To stay certified, pediatricians are required to continue their education. The American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Medical Specialties have developed a four-part program to help physicians stay up-to-date on advancements in pediatrics. Pediatricians are required to earn continuing education credits. They are regularly evaluated on their professionalism, medical knowledge, practice techniques and communication skills by taking an exam every ten years.

Maintaining certification demonstrates professionalism and dedication to the craft and may lead to career advancement opportunities within clinics, hospitals and other medical facilities that employ pediatricians.

Hope this answers your query
Good Luck 😊

Prashanth TM
Thank you for the info this rly helped!! Priscilla S.
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Prit’s Answer

Hi Priscilla,

The above post was great and very descriptive. However, since you just starting your HS and it can be overwhelming to read all of that. I'd highly recommend you to pursue a wide array of extracurricular activities that are related to science, medicine and most importantly, activities that serve the community. The road to medical school and becoming a physician is full of exciting steps and pathways. But it is also a long and difficult journey, so prepare yourself the closer you are to starting undergraduate (college). Please try your best to understand and appreciate the basic sciences while in high school ( you will also relearn them in college) and be involved in your community. Those are the two most important steps to start your pathway to becoming a doctor while in any stage, in high school, college and even medical school.

Keep your mind open for now, into what type of doctor you want to be and not just a pediatrician,. You still have many experience in your near and far future. Best way to learn more about medicine and other specialties in general is to shadow physicians through out high school, but more likely in college.

Good luck and don't forget to enjoy your high school experience,


Prit recommends the following next steps:

Enjoy highschool, join school extracurricular clubs, volunteer in your community
Shadow a doctor
Talk to family and/or friends that are in medicine or know people who are in medince. They'll give the best advice
Thank you for the advice, I'll take it into consideration. Priscilla S.
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Estelle’s Answer

I recommend taking all the AP and/or dual credit classes that you can. This will further prepare you for college classes and provide less expensive credit hours towards your degree. Good luck!