A neonatologist treats the most serious problems affecting newborns like birth defects, diseases and injuries. Consultation with an obstetrician can occur before or after the birth and a neonatologist may even assist the delivery. You must love kids, in particular babies, and be fascinated by child development to enjoy this career in the medical field.
- Skill level:
Take undergraduate courses in the sciences or subjects requiring analytical skills like economics and architecture. You could also do a pre-med program but it's not necessary to be a successful neonatologist.
Do well on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Choose an accredited medical school from the Liaison Committee of Medical Education (LCME) list.
Learn about taking care of children in medical school. Neonatology is a subspecialty of pediatrics.
Complete a three year residency program in pediatric medicine. You'll spend time in clinics, inpatient wards and emergency departments treating kids under supervision. You'll also get exposure to neonatal care.
Get a state license so you can legally practice medicine. Without this you can't take the certification exams administered by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP).
Acquire general pediatric certification by the ABP. It's given once a year in the fall. You need your medical license, degree from an accredited school and proof of training.
Go through three years of training in neonatology. You do hands on work in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and medical research in the field.
Sit for your neonatologist certification from the American Board of Pediatrics.
Tips and warnings
- Expect to practice in children's hospitals, medical centers and large general hospitals.
- You may be called to consult on premature births.
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