Required Education to Become a Pediatrician
One of the first questions students will ask when they are considering a career as a pediatrician is usually regarding how long it will take. It is understood that a doctor will study a very long time prior to actually getting licensed to practice, but just how long is that? Actually, if you break it down, you will see that it takes as long to become a licensed pediatrician that all the other years of your education combined, almost.
The very first step in the required education to become a pediatrician is to obviously get a high school diploma. This may not sound like much but there are several things that must be taken into consideration. Pre-med is not overly competitive, but getting accepted into medical school is. In fact, it is so competitive to vie for the few seats available in any class that students need to have near perfect grade point averages. This all begins in high school. Anything less than a 3.0, or B, average is unacceptable.
Post Secondary Education
Anything after high school is considered to be post secondary education. The required education to become a pediatrician continues here. You will be studying for a Bachelor of Science, most likely with an emphasis in biology or chemistry. There is no actual 'pre-med' degree, but being on a pre-med track would entail specific courses that will prepare you for graduate studies in medicine. This is a time when you will need to pay special attention to your studies and keep your GPA as close to 4.0 as possible. Medical school is highly competitive and if you are not near the top of your class, your chances of being accepted to a good medical graduate program are slim to none. You have just completed the first four years of study after high school.
Most often it takes approximately four years to complete med school, but in some cases it may take as long as five. This depends entirely on whether or not you attend all four years full time and if you have any specialization courses that you undertake. This will be the most difficult four years of your life and the most important part of the required education to become a pediatrician. It takes real commitment to get through these years. Before being admitted into residency and being conferred with the title of M.D. or D.O, the med student must pass a grueling final exam. There are two recognized approaches to medicine, Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine respectively.
The final step prior to being licensed to practice medicine is called residency and it is between 3 and 8 years in duration, depending on the level of specialization. While it would take a pediatric doctor approximately three years to complete his or her residency prior to sitting for the qualifying examination, a pediatric surgeon would most likely spend a longer period of time as a resident. In previous years residency was broken down into one year of internship and two years of residency but now it is simply considered a three year residency stretch to complete the required education to become a doctor.
Taking all of these requirements into consideration, it may take a pediatrician, depending on the area of pediatric specialization, at least 11 years after high school. That's an amazing 24 to 25 years of education (if you count kindergarten) of study. How long does it take to become a pediatrician? Approximately 1/3 of his or her expected lifespan – that's dedication!