What Education Do You Need to Be a Pediatrician?


Quick Answer

Pediatricians are expected to complete four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school and three years in a residency program, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Pediatricians may also choose to pursue specialty fields, which requires additional years of training for each certification.

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Full Answer

At the undergraduate level, prospective doctors typically build a premedical background with science and math courses, including organic chemistry, biology, physics, statistics and calculus, the AAP states. In medical school, students develop a deeper understanding of the body's functionality, anatomy and interaction with pharmaceuticals. Traditional coursework, such as biochemistry, neuroscience and pathology, is complemented by practical training in a teaching hospital. Students complete clinical rotations to start gaining on-the-job experience in pediatrics and other common medical fields.

After graduating medical school, practical training continues in the residency stage, during which time doctors have the opportunity to specialize in pediatrics, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. A pediatrics residency exposes new doctors to the professional standards of hospitals and expands core medical skills, such as emergency care, newborn intensive care and behavioral pediatrics, says the AAP.

The American Board of Pediatrics oversees certifications to identify doctors with proven qualifications. After residency, doctors must pass an exam to become board-certified pediatricians, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. To ensure ongoing compliance with changing standards and practices in the field, physicians must satisfy the recertification criteria every seven years. Throughout their careers, pediatricians can also increase their skill set by training in subspecialties, such as cardiology, dermatology or surgery.

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