Pediatricians specialize in the health care of children. They diagnose and treat illness and injury and prescribe appropriate medications and treatment programs. Pediatricians gather information by conducting physical examinations, performing tests, ordering lab work, and reviewing patient history. Pediatricians also ask a series of questions as a way of understanding patient symptoms and complaints. With infants and toddlers, pediatricians must often rely on the observations of parents and caregivers.
Pediatricians comprise about 7% of all medical doctors. Other areas of specialization include surgery, internal medicine, psychiatry, anesthesiology, pathology, and general family practice.
Education and Training
In the U.S., medical doctors may need the following education and training:
- a bachelor's degree from a 4-year college or university with courses in physics, biology, mathematics, English, and chemistry (both inorganic and organic)
- a graduate degree from a 4-year medical school
- 3-8 years of internship and residency
- a license which requires education, internship and residency requirements as well as the passing of a licensing examination
On the Job
Medical doctors work long, irregular hours. They work in an office, make rounds in the hospital, spend extended periods of time on-call, and communicate with patients via the phone. Medical doctors that work in a group setting tend to work closely with other health care professionals when managing patient care.
Medical doctors must be responsive to the everyday pressures related to making critical decisions about patient care. They also must have a strong desire to serve patient's needs with compassion, flexibility, and understanding.
Math on the Job
Medical doctors must be excellent problem solvers. They must be able to gather accurate information and make careful decisions as to a probable diagnosis. In addition to having excellent problem solving skills, medical doctors also perform mathematical calculations related to a patient's specific medical condition. For example, a medical doctor may determine a drug dosage level based on the patient's age, gender, and weight. Because of the high level of responsibility, medical doctors must carry out their work with extreme care and precision.
- nurse practitioner
You can get more information about a career as a physician from the
Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).