The Scoop on General Pediatricians

Do you like kids? Do you enjoy helping kids and seeing their faces light up when something good happens?

Perhaps working a General Pediatrician is a way for you to enjoy kids without being a schoolteacher. Pediatricians work in many different settings and they accounted for 7.5% of the total pool of Doctors in 2005. That's a lot for just the "youngens". Plus, with the population growing and more kids being born everyday the workload and client base for Pediatricians is going to rise and the need for care will rise along with it.

What in the World Does a Pediatrician Do?

If you're working as a Pediatrician your whole entire job is to diagnose and treat problems that are specific to young people. Now, as a Pediatrician you would be a child's "Doctor" until they age out of your services (usually about 18 years old) but in before then you are their primary caregiver.

Pediatricians also counsel parents on how to keep their children healthy, advise them on the best way to immunize their children, and tell parents the best ways to feed their children to keep them healthy. The field focuses solely on children and as a General Pediatrician you will also be responsible for referring kids to other Pediatric specialists if a child has a problem that you are not able to treat on your own.

The workload in working with kids can be taxing because little kids don't necessarily ALWAYS want to go to the Doctor and you might not have 100% cooperative patients all the time. Also, the manual labor involved getting on a kid's level and work with them can be more intense than that of say a General or Family Practitioner. Moreover, you will have to work with Pediatric specific nurses and aides who may be more difficult to find than simply hiring an R.N. off the street.

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

Schooling for Pediatrics is no different than any other specialty in M.D.-land. First, you must complete a Bachelor's Degree (typically in a science like Biology or Chemistry) and then you must work through the competitive process of getting accepted to Medical School (there are 146 in the U.S.) and once you get into Medical School you'll complete their 4-year program and become either a M.D. (Medical Doctor) or a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.) Once you have a title you have to go and get your license to practice medicine from the State Medical Board. This usually requires passing a written and "skills" exam before you receive your license. (Once you get it you have to get continuing education to renew it.) Then you can get to work as a Doctor.

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

Once you have your license to practice medicine you'll have to complete a 3-7 year internship or apprenticeship to learn your chosen specialty (Pediatrics) before you can get a license form the State Medical Board in Pediatric Medicine. Once you are licensed as a Pediatrician then you can get to work.

Many Pediatricians work in private practice and hire their own staff, set their own hours, and rent out their office space. Sometimes you might want to work for an established Pediatrician before you can save enough to open your own business. If you don't want to go into business on your own you can get a salaried or "partner" position at a larger Pediatric practice where you will be one of many Pediatricians.

If you don't want to be stuck in "the Doctor's office" your whole career then you could work at a hospital or health clinic as "The Pediatrician" or you could do Government work with state and local agencies to promote child health and welfare. Either way, you have more options than just "the Doctor's office".

Advancement in the field usually requires you to ascend to a management position like "Director of Pediatrics" at a hospital or health clinic or "Senior Partner" at a larger practice. Those who are more experienced or considering retirement may want to do research or teach Pediatrics at a Medical School. Taking on more responsibility may suit older Doctors or Doctors who have older children more easily than those with families and/or small children.

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Pediatricians, General Overview

Pediatricians, General Salary:$146,040
Job Prospects:A-
Education after high school:11 years
# Employed in US:29,170
% Who work Part Time:8%
Physical Difficulty:+ + + +
Intellectual Difficulty:+ + + +
Emotional Difficulty:+ + + + +

The Pros of being a General Pediatrician

  • You get the chance to work with kids
  • You get the chance to make kids feel better
  • You can go into business for yourself and set your own hours if you wish
  • You can hire a staff and give other people jobs
  • You don't just have to work in "the Doctor's office"

The Cons of being a General Pediatrician

  • Schooling takes 8 years after High School
  • You must also complete a 3-7 (paid) internship
  • It may be emotionally hard to work with children who are sick or in pain