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STEM Career Spotlight: Pediatrician

By Francesca Vidal

In the aftermath of COVID-19, it is more important now than ever that our children stay healthy. However, if a child does end up catching a cold, the first place parents take them is to their pediatrician. Pediatricians are vital to the welfare of children as they are able to diagnose diseases, give injections, prescribe medications, and treat injuries (Cleveland Clinic). Since pediatricians possess a wide range of knowledge in different medical specialties, it is no wonder why it takes most doctors more than a decade to become board-certified pediatricians.

The journey to becoming a pediatrician can start as early as high school. By taking classes like AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Psychology, Calculus AB and/or BC, and AP Physics, students can be more prepared to handle the more rigorous classes that they will be expected to take in college. Additionally, participating in science activities like Science Olympiad, conducting research on a medical topic, and participating in a medical internship are all great ways for students to expand their knowledge of medicine and obtain a sense of what a day in the life of a medical professional may look like. In college, many aspiring doctors tend to major in biology. With a degree in biology, students are expected to take classes such as organic chemistry, genetics, biochemistry, calculus, and more. During their senior year, students are required to take the MCAT, a 6-hour test assessing a student’s knowledge of anatomy, biology, biochemistry, and psychology. Throughout college, students focus on applying to medical internships and doing research in order to improve their resumes and increase their chances of being admitted into medical school. Due to the large competition that exists when applying to medical school, some students choose to take a gap year after college to focus on building a great application and gaining valuable work experience in a hospital.

Once in medical school, students spend four more years taking classes in anatomy, physiology, and pathology while also participating in clinical rotations. Clinic rotations allow students to be able to determine what specialty they may want to specialize in at the end of medical school. After students graduate from medical school, they are expected to participate in a pediatric residency program for three years. During their residencies, doctors apply their knowledge gained from undergraduate and medical school and put it into practice. Residency can be tough on pediatricians as they can be expected to work long hours with little sleep. At the end of their residency, residents take the 9-hour long American Board of Pediatrics General Pediatrics Certifying Exam. If a resident passes the exam, they officially become licensed pediatricians.

The road to becoming a pediatrician can be difficult, long, costly, and stressful; however, becoming a pediatrician is extremely rewarding. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, pediatricians are paid on average $203,240 a year. 85.9% of pediatricians are happy with their job, with many reporting that they regularly enjoy helping and working with children of all ages. Even though it may take a couple of years to officially become a pediatrician, having a passion for the career makes the whole journey worthwhile.

Works Cited

“About the MCAT Exam | The Princeton Review.”, 2015,

Bauld, Andrew. “How to Become a Pediatrician.” US News, 29 June 2023,


Cleveland Clinic. “Pediatrician: Role, Education, Average Salary & Where to Find.”

Cleveland Clinic, 27 Aug. 2021,



Indeed Editorial Team. “15 Pros and Cons of Being a Pediatrician to Consider.” Indeed,




Thompson, Gale. “What College Courses Are Needed to Become a Neonatal Doctor?"

Classroom Synonym,


Zippia Team. “How Hard Is It to Become a Pediatrician?”, 14 Nov. 2022,

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