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How to Become a Pediatrician

Charlie S
Whom do you take your child to when he/she is not feeling well? The answer is a pediatrician. These are professional doctors trained in treating babies, small children, and teenagers.
Becoming a pediatrician is an exciting career option for those, who love children and enjoy working with them. Pediatricians need to work hard to achieve success in their field.
Many universities in the United States of America offer full-time courses in it. Baylor University, University of Colorado, Stanford, Yale, etc., are some of the world famous universities imparting quality education in pediatrics.
The preparation to become a pediatrician starts right from the high school level. Students who opt for physics, chemistry, and biology can think of joining this profession.
But it is essential to score brilliant marks in these subjects in high school and also in the medical entrance test, because admission to top medical colleges is highly coveted. The saying 'Survival of the Fittest' is applicable to medical admissions too.
To become a pediatrician in the US, one must clear the MCAT entrance test with flying colors. In the first year, students study human anatomy and physiology, pathology, and microbiology. Then, in the second year, they have to appear for United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) - part 1. It is mandatory to clear this examination with valid scores.
They also study internal medicine, family practice, and pediatrics in the second and third year. During the fourth and fifth year, they learn specific fields and get hands on experience in dealing with complicated cases. They also appear for the (USMLE) part - 2 exam. To gain practical experience, one needs to apply for a residency. 

Training During Residency

The residency is for a duration of three years. In the first year, students work in rotations, in the units treating serious illnesses. They have to appear for the third and final part of the USMLE examination in the same year.
In the second year, they get to work in neonatal ICUs and pediatric intensive care units. The third year is most important and rigorous. The curriculum includes working in patient units and emergency rooms. 
After successfully completing the residency, one has to appear for the general pediatrics certification examination. This exam is conducted by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). Students who clear this exam are conferred with MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degrees.
American Academy of Pediatrics gives specialized training in domains like Adolescent Medicine, Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric Rheumatology, Pediatric Pulmonology, Developmental Pediatrics, and Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. Apart from the US, this educational system is prevalent in many European countries. 

Some More Information

In India, colleges like University of Mumbai, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Health Sciences offer postgraduate courses in pediatrics. Before applying for them, you need to complete your MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery). As mentioned earlier, one has to score well in the entrance test to get a seat.
PMT (Pre Medical Test), CET (Common Entrance Test) are the entrance tests conducted in India. MD (Doctor of Medicine) and work experience certificate are the required qualifications for a pediatrician in India.

Job Profile

Pediatricians diagnose and treat injuries and infections in children. They also treat organic diseases, and various other ailments like tuberculosis, jaundice, typhoid, growth related disorders like marasmus, etc. This way they help in reducing child and infant mortality.
They need to understand child psychology as children are very moody. They need to have a lot of patience because, children are initially reluctant to interact with strangers. They also solve behavior-related problems in children. 
Some tackle general health issues, while others specialize in treating diseases like heart attacks, cancer, kidney failure, etc. in children. They have to work for long hours and have to be physically and mentally fit. One can either practice as independent doctor or take up government or private hospital jobs.
Becoming a pediatrician is difficult, but not impossible. It is a noble profession which gives both job satisfaction and a decent income.