What Are the Steps of Becoming a Pediatrician?

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What Are the Steps of Becoming a Pediatrician?
Paediatricians must enjoy caring for children. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Paediatricians specialise in diagnosing and treating disorders that affect infants, children and adolescents. Prior to becoming a paediatrician, prospective students must earn their degree in general medicine. Candidates who successfully complete their medical training can become paediatricians by enrolling in a residency program. The American Board of Pediatricians certifies paediatricians in general or specialised fields such as cardiology, oncology, critical care and neurology. In addition to becoming board certified, paediatricians must also be state licensed.

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Prospective paediatrics students must complete four years of undergraduate school and take the Medical College Admissions Test to be admitted into an accredited medical program. Medical training is comprised of classroom instruction and clinical rotations, which take place under the supervision of licensed physicians and medical staff. Students take courses such as microbiology, pharmacology, immunology and pathology. Medical school graduates are eligible to apply for their residency training in paediatrics.


Residency programs in paediatrics take between three to four years to complete. Paediatric residents receive training in general paediatrics and critical care. Depending on the program, paediatric residents who complete their basic training can choose speciality fields like oncology, nephrology, cardiology and genetics. Residents take part in lectures, seminars and clinical rounds at research hospitals or clinics. In addition to receiving foundational training in paediatrics, residents also have the opportunity to work in neonatal intensive care units and conduct case studies.

Licensing and Certification

After satisfying their residency requirements, paediatricians must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination. To qualify for a state license, prospective applicants must graduate from an accredited medical institution. Depending on the state, licensed paediatricians may be eligible to work in multiple states under a reciprocity program. The American Board of Pediatricians certifies qualified paediatricians. Certification candidates must be graduates from an accredited institution; they must complete a minimum of three years of residency training in paediatrics and be state licensed. Qualified candidates must pass a daylong written examination that covers topics related to health care for infants, children and adolescents.

Continuing Education

Certified paediatricians must maintain their credentials by taking continuing education courses throughout their careers. To qualify for re-certification, paediatricians must hold a valid state license in at least one U.S. jurisdiction. In addition, re-certification candidates must demonstrate their lifelong learning and self-assessment by taking Continuing Medical Education credits. Paediatricians must maintain their certificate in both general and speciality fields every 10 years. The American Board of Pediatricians evaluates paediatricians on their competencies in patient care, medical knowledge, professionalism and interpersonal and communication skills.

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