Interview About a Career as a Pediatrician

Typical Questions and Answers About Being a Pediatrician

Students are often assigned a project to interview professionals about their career. Pediatricians are typically asked about about becoming a pediatrician, including how much school do you have to go through, what influenced you to become a pediatrician, typical salaries, and hours.

If you are doing a project on a career in pediatrics, it is best to talk with a pediatrician in your community and do the interview in person.

 An easy choice is the pediatrician who has taken care of you, or another pediatrician in your community. Most would be happy to help an aspiring student with this sort of career project.

Here are some of the typical questions you might ask. The answers may be similar, but each pediatrician will have her own story to tell. These are well worth hearing.

What It Takes to Become a Pediatrician

What kind of education do you need to become a pediatrician?

Pediatricians typically complete 11 years of training to become a pediatrician, including:

  • Four years of college
  • Four years of medical school
  • One year of an internship in pediatrics
  • Two years of a pediatric residency

Pediatric specialists, like a pediatric cardiologist or pediatric endocrinologist, also have to complete at least three years of specialty fellowship training.

How much does all of that schooling cost?

It depends on where you go to school, with private colleges and medical schools in general being more expensive than public ones.

Most medical students get financial aid, loans and grants to help pay for their education though. In 2017, the median debt of medical students was $140,000, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

What should I choose as a major in college?

Although most students assume that they have to major in biology or some other science major, you can choose any major you like.

There are certain premed course requirements that you have to complete before applying to medical school, but they can be outside your major. Premed requirements usually include:

  • One year of English
  • One to two years of Biology
  • One semester of college calculus or statistics
  • One year of physics
  • Wwo years of chemistry, including one year of inorganic and one year of organic chemistry

It may seem easier to just choose a major that includes these classes, but you really should pick a major that you will enjoy and will succeed at.

Do I have to have a 4.0 GPA to get into medical school?

Of course not. Grades are only one thing that medical schools look at when considering applicants for medical school. They will also look at your MCAT scores, recommendations from your professors and advisors, extracurricular activities, and your personal qualities.

More than your grades, medical schools want to see that you are able to be successful at something. This might mean that you have competed in piano competitions, that you play competitive sports, or that you had a leadership role in a major organization or community service project.

If you can show that you can be successful, then you may be able to convince the medical school that you will be successful as a doctor.

Does it matter where I go to college?

Not as much as most students think. Medical school application committees do look at how hard your courses in college were or the "rigor of the undergraduate curriculum," but you are likely best off going to a college where you will be successful. Getting all A's at a smaller college that is close to home is probably better than getting all C's and D's at Harvard or Yale.

If you are interested in getting into a highly competitive or top medical school, like Harvard or Johns Hopkins, then going to an elite college might be helpful.

What It's Like to Be a Pediatrician

After all of the questions about how to become a pediatrician, students often begin asking questions about what it is like being a pediatrician.

Typical questions include how much do you work, what do you do, how much money can you make, etc. And of course, why did you want to become a pediatrician.

What influenced you to become a pediatrician?

This answer will be unique to the pediatrician. Some always wanted to work with children, while others discover that they liked pediatrics best of all of their rotations in medical school. Some may have started with a different specialty before discovering they preferred pediatrics.

What do pediatricians do?

Pediatricians take care of kids, from birth to 21 years of age, when they are sick and offer preventative care and guidance to keep them healthy. The American Academy of Pediatrics sums it up well in stating that "in caring for children's physical health, pediatricians diagnose and treat infections, injuries, genetic defects, malignancies, and many types of organic disease and dysfunction. They work to reduce infant and child mortality, control infectious disease, foster healthy lifestyles, and ease the day-to-day difficulties of children and adolescents with chronic conditions."

What is a typical day like for a pediatrician?

For the average primary care pediatrician with a regular office, the day usually begins by going to the hospital to 'make rounds' and seeing new babies and any sick kids that have been hospitalized. Next, office hours usually begin at 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. and continue until 4:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m., with one hour to 90 minutes for lunch.

During that time, pediatricians see kids in two basic types of appointments. There are appointments for kids who are sick, like with an ear infection or poison ivy, and well child appointments, when kids get their checkups and shots. The average pediatrician sees about 127 patients a week, including those in the office and hospital.

How many hours a week does a pediatrician work?

The AAP reports that the average pediatrician works an average of 50 hours per week. This includes time spent in the office, visiting patients in the hospital, doing paperwork, and being on call after-hours. Most pediatricians also take either a half day or full day off during the week.

What does it mean to be on call?

Most pediatricians make themselves available to their patients after regular office hours, including nights and weekends. When on call, a doctor answers phone calls and sometimes has to visit the hospital to see a sick patient.

The amount of time spent on call depends on how many doctors are available to share being on call. A doctor by himself would usually be on call every day. Doctors in a group, like in an office with three other doctors, would be on call much less often and perhaps just once a month.

The availability of pediatric hospitalists, pediatricians who specialize in caring for children in the hospital, can mean that you don't have to go to the hospital anymore. That can help you devote your time to just caring for kids in the office and can mean that you don't have to go to the hospital when you are on call.

How much money do pediatricians make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average salary for a pediatrician was $168,990 in 2017. Meanwhile, Salary.com says the median is higher at $189,000. Doctors who see more patients and worked longer hours generally make more money, while those who work part time make less.

Why Pediatricians Choose Their Career

There is more to knowing about a career than how much you work, what you do, and how much money you make. You should also research and ask about job satisfaction and what people like and dislike about their career choice.

What do you like about being a pediatrician?

You will get different answers from different doctors, but most people who choose a career in pediatrics like most aspects of their job. In fact, a survey from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 81.5 percent of pediatricians were either "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with their professional hours, income, skills, and interest level.

What do you not like about being a pediatrician?

When you interview a doctor, you may hear a variety of answers. Of course, they don't like it when children are sick and don't get better. It can also be difficult to deal with insurance companies and HMOs.

And many pediatricians dislike that some parents don't want to vaccinate their children. Although still a minority of parents, it has lead to some pediatricians actually choosing to not take care of these children. Most other pediatricians continue to work to educate these parents that vaccines are safe and necessary to keep their kids protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Do you ever get tired of your job?

You may find a pediatrician who admits that they are getting burned out, but many love the challenge and highly varied nature of their profession. In any one day, they might see newborn babies, sick toddlers, and teens with school problems. They can specialize in a field, such as seeing teens with behavior and school problems, or younger children with allergies and asthma.

What is the future for pediatrics?

As long as people keep having babies, there will be a need for pediatricians to take care of them. There are still shortages of pediatricians in many parts of the United States, especially in rural areas.

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