What Are the Benefits of Becoming a Pediatrician?

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Following eight years of college and medical school, a specialty physician must complete a residency. For pediatricians, a general pediatrics residency lasts three years, and sub-specialists complete an additional one to four years of training. Although general pediatricians are not the highest-paid physicians, they still averaged a respectable $170,530 a year as of 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you love children, a pediatrician's job has many benefits, including personal fulfillment and flexibility.

Helping Children

  • Pediatricians can take pride in improving the health of the smallest and most vulnerable members of society, and saving the lives of those with the most years ahead. For those who love children, work as a pediatrician can be a source of great fulfillment. They watch babes-in-arms become toddlers, then growing children. They also form ongoing relationships with parents and sometimes even doctor the children's children. Although other physicians treat children, only pediatricians limit their practice to this demographic.

Improving Public Health

  • Pediatricians can find satisfaction in the public health aspects of their work. As primary promoters of immunizations, such as against smallpox and measles, they are essential in keeping preventing these diseases. When whooping cough or other rare diseases appear, they play a crucial role in recognizing them and helping prevent their spread. Educating parents in ways to preserve and improve their children's well-being is another important part of their service to public health.

Challenges and Choices

  • Pediatricians enjoy the intellectual stimulation of a broad specialty and the benefit of choosing from among 20 subspecialties that focus on a type of medicine or body system. The choices include developmental-behavioral pediatrics; medical toxicology; neonatal-perinatal medicine; or pediatric cardiology, gastroenterology, rheumatology, pulmonology and nephrology. Even general pediatricians must master symptoms and treatments for many diseases, both common and rare.

Flexible and Family-Friendly

  • Pediatricians work in hospitals, private practice, community health centers, public clinics, government, military, schools and health maintenance organizations. This choice of environments gives them the option of flexible or part-time hours and job sharing, especially helpful to doctors with families or those nearing retirement. More than half of U.S. pediatricians in 2011 were women, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A Favorable Future

  • Pediatricians face a favorable job outlook, as of 2014. The U.S. population is expected to increase by 100 million by 2050, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Although the number of seniors is growing, the fertility rate is increasing as well, especially among immigrants. A large native-born generation is also at the right age to give birth, creating more need for pediatricians. The BLS predicts an 18 percent increase in physicians' jobs in all specialties between 2012 and 2022, above the 11 percent average growth rate for all occupations. The need will be greatest away from cities and in areas with below-average incomes.

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