It should come as no secret that there is a global shortage of doctors in literally every field of medicine. From pediatricians to neurosurgeons, and every specialty in between, it takes years to become a doctor but the one qualification you should have above all else is a passion for healing or preventing illness. When it comes to being a pediatrician, it also takes a love of children because you will be dealing with patients from birth to 16 or 18 years of age. The cutoff age varies from state to state and doctor to doctor. Besides years of education and a love of kids, what does it really take to become a pediatrician?
A Pre-Med Degree Is a Good Place to Start
One of the reasons why there is such a shortage of doctors is the fact that med school isn’t exactly easy to get into. Not only do you need a high GPA and an aptitude for math and science, but you also need to finance an expensive university education. Bear in mind that you will need a Bachelor’s Degree, and four years of med school. Then, as a pediatrician, you will need 2-3 years as a resident. If you further specialize as a pediatric surgeon, for example, another four years of residency is also going to be required.
Let those numbers sink in for just a moment. That’s a total of eight years of secondary education and the 2-7 years as a resident. That’s a long time before you can hang your shingle, and why so many pediatric hopefuls begin with a pre-med degree. This certification gets their foot in the door at clinics and hospitals in entry-level positions in the field so that they can work during the remaining years of their educational career. You can learn more about what you can do with a pre-med degree on withmydegree.org if you are interested in one day becoming a pediatrician with, or without, a specialty.
Patients vs. Patience
When working towards becoming a pediatrician, there is an old joke that has been circulating for many years. Dealing with healthy kids is difficult enough but dealing with those who are ill is challenging, to say the least. Not only will you need patients as a pediatric doctor, but you will need an extreme amount of patience when dealing with children, many of whom will be quite unruly. That is their nature after all!
So, what does it take to become a pediatrician? It takes years and years of education, an expensive education at that, and above all that, a real love of children. A doctor who has no affinity for kids should specialize in some other branch of medicine. With a pre-med degree, you can get your foot in the door as an assistant at a local pediatric office or hospital while you continue to work toward your medical degree. Whether you choose to continue is up to you, but one thing you can always be sure of is that good pediatricians are hard to find, so you will always have a lucrative career.