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Interview with a Pediatrician

Being a Pediatrician

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Updated September 30, 2012

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.

1) What influenced you to become a pediatrician?

I always wanted to be a doctor, from when I was a little kid. It wasn't until medical school that I decided on a career in Pediatrics.

During your third year of medical school, you start working with patients more as you do different rotations, such as ob/gyn (delivering babies, etc.), surgery, psychiatry, internal medicine, family practice, and pediatrics. Although I liked all of my rotations, I found that I enjoyed Pediatrics and taking care of children the most.

2) What do pediatricians do?

I think that the American Academy of Pediatrics sums it up best 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.'

So basically we take care of kids, from birth to 21 years of age, when they are sick and we offer preventative care and guidance to keep them healthy.

3) What is a typical day like for a pediatrician?

It depends, but 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 or 9:00 am and continue until 4:00 or 5:00 pm, with 1 to 1 1/2 hours 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. And the average pediatrician sees about 127 patients a week, including those in the office and hospital.

4) 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 1/2 day or full day off during the week.

5) 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' call. A doctor by himself would usually be on call everyday. Doctors in a group, like in an office with 3 other doctors would be on call much less often and perhaps just once a month.

6) How much money do pediatricians make?

The American Medical Association reports an average income for pediatricians at $135,400 a year, but that was from 1993. Medical Economics magazine reports a salary range for pediatricians from less than $60,000 up to $400,000 a year, with doctors that saw more patients and worked longer hours generally making more money, while those who work part time make less.

According to Merritt, Hawkins & Associates, a recruitment firm, starting salaries for full-time pediatricians range from a low of $100,000 to a high of $160,000, with an average starting salary of $130,000.

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