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What do I need to do to become a pediatrician?

I am in 9th grade so I just want to start doing different things to get me ready for college and to become a pediatrician. #pediatrician

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Subject: Career question for you

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John’s Answer

Jada to prepare for a pre-med major, you must take the right courses in high school. These include the sciences, such as physics and chemistry; math, including calculus and statistics; and even English. Pursue a rigorous combination of AP, Honors or IB courses and strive for the highest grades possible. It’s important to note here that although your college may accept AP credit, medical schools may not. If you are pursuing a medical career, take the college course and pass up the AP credit. Not only will this college level course look better on your pre-med admissions application, but it will also prepare you for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) and medical school classes.

Next, look for a high school summer medical program. These programs will give you exposure to the world of medicine and also the opportunity to work with medical professionals. Colleges such as Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown and many others offer summer programs that introduce students to the medical field. Some hospitals, such as Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, also offer summer internships or research opportunities for high school students. High school medical summer programs offer learning opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom. Many include hands-on lab training. For instance, the Pre-Med Institute at the University of Texas at Austin allows students to study anatomy by handling real human remains and soft tissue specimens. Students also learn how to examine MRIs, X-rays, and CTs. If you are looking at summer medical programs, consider who is teaching the classes and whether it includes opportunities to be in the lab or even do your own research.

Jada if you like what you experience at one of these pre-med summer programs, it is a good indicator that you are on the right track toward a career in medicine.

John recommends the following next steps:

If you are thinking about pre-med, explore the areas of medicine that interest you, interview or shadow someone in the areas of medicine that interest you, interviewing a health-care professional is a good way to learn about the different careers in health care.
Thank you comment icon Excellent advice. I would just add biology to the list of courses and organic chemistry. These two are the foundations required for a successful path in pre-med. Edmond Momartin
Thank you comment icon Thank you Edmond. Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much. John Frick
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Sheila’s Answer

Hi Jada:

Thank you for your question. I agree with John's advice 100%. My son is a Pediatrician and just completed his residency. He's now in a fellowship program to specialize. Without repeating John's comments here's a brief list of steps my son took on his journey to become a Pediatrician.

1) College Degree (4 years)
2) Summer Intern (Paid or Volunteer)
2) MCAT (Retake the exam if necessary)
3) Medical School (4 years)
4) Residency (3 years)
5) Fellowship / Specialization (3 years)

One last thing I'd like to add is when my son was in high school he was in a medical explorer's program for 3 years. This was an awesome program where he spent at least 3 hours a month shadowing doctors in the local hospital. This is a great experience and I urge you to check with your school to see if they have such a program. I hope this was helpful. Best of luck to you!

~ Sheila

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