Thinking About Medicine and Pediatrics

Thinking About Medicine and Pediatrics

Are you considering a medical career in pediatrics?

It is no surprise that general pediatricians report greater job satisfaction than any other specialists. Children make you smile; they create an ideal work environment when they walk in the door. 

Pediatrics offers excellent job satisfaction, ample employment opportunities, and flexibility.  

According to the 2017 AAP Annual Survey of Graduating Residents, 94% of graduating pediatric residents reported that they would choose pediatrics again and such satisfaction has been consistent over the last two decades. 

Starmer et al reported findings from the AAP Pediatrician Life and Career Experience Study (PLACES) - satisfaction among early career pediatricians is strong, with eight in 10 pediatricians reporting satisfaction with their career. 

Employment Opportunities
Data from the last 15 years of the AAP Annual Survey of Graduating Residents indicate:

  • Nearly all residents (98%) have a job by or shortly after their residency graduation date, and this percentage has increased across the years.

  • Very few residents report they had considerable difficulty in their search for a job, and this percent decreased across years from 10% in 2003-05 to 3% in 2015-17. 

Part-Time Practice
Pediatrics is at the forefront of the trend toward more flexible work arrangements for physicians. A 2016 article in The Journal of Pediatrics reported findings from the AAP Periodic Survey and Annual Survey of Graduating residents:

  • Nearly one-fourth of pediatricians reported working part-time in 2010-2013. 

  • Women were more likely than men to work part-time hours (35% vs 9%), but there were different patterns of part-time work across age:

    • 40% of women in their 40s and 33% of women in other age groups reported working part-time.

    • 20% of men in their 60s and 5% of men in other age groups reported working part-time. 

  • Pediatricians reporting that they worked part-time worked an average of 25  hours per week in direct patient care in 2010-2013. Full-time pediatricians worked an average of 39 hours per week in direct patient care.

  • Among pediatric residents applying for non-training positions in 2010-2013, 30% of women and 17% of men reported seeking a part-time position, and 15% of women and 6% of men accepted a position with part-time or reduced hours. 

Medical training is a huge commitment and a major investment. Those considering a career in pediatrics should do their homework and seek the advice of physicians they know. If the research supports your interest in pediatrics, count yourself lucky and follow your heart. Consider the words of pediatricians:

  • A general pediatrician interviewed a few years ago, when he was 82 and still teaching medical students: "When you're a general pediatrician you're a member of every family that you take care of. Would I recommend pediatrics? You bet your life!"

  • A young pediatrician provided the following comment on a AAP PLACES survey: "I love being a pediatrician and would recommend this field of medicine to anyone.  My toughest challenge is finding balance."

Pediatricians are free to choose one or more practice settings and to pursue a wide variety of interests. Generalist pediatricians are needed to serve as educators, mentors, hospitalists, and researchers. Rewarding careers are also available in public health, international health, health policy, and administrative leadership. Pediatric medical subspecialists practice primarily in academic medical centers and specialty hospitals.

What is General Pediatrics?
Pediatricians focus on the physical, emotional, and social health of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults from birth to 21 years. Developmentally oriented and trained in skilled assessment, their patient-care lens is focused on prevention, detection, and management of physical, behavioral, developmental, and social problems that affect children. Pediatricians diagnose and treat infections, injuries, and many types of organic disease and dysfunction. They work to reduce infant and child mortality, foster healthy lifestyles, and ease the day-to-day difficulties of those with chronic conditions. With structured evaluation and early intervention, pediatricians identify and address developmental and behavioral problems that result from exposure to psychosocial stressors. They appreciate the vulnerability of children and adolescents, and actively advocate for measures to protect their health and safety. The ability to communicate effectively with patients, families, teachers, and social service professionals is a key to effective pediatric care.

General pediatricians collaborate with pediatric subspecialists and other medical and surgical specialists in the treatment of complex diseases and disorders. They work closely with other health professionals concerned with the emotional needs of children. Pediatricians advise educators and child-care professionals, and advocate for access to care and a medical home for all children.

General pediatrics is a multifaceted primary care specialty. The general pediatrician's responsibilities include:

  • Management of serious and life-threatening illnesses

  • Diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic disorders

  • Monitoring physical and psychosocial growth and development

  • Age-appropriate screening

  • Health supervision (health promotion and disease prevention activities to enable each child to reach full potential)

  • Anticipatory guidance (advice and education for patients and parents regarding appropriate preparation for predictable developmental challenges)

  • Referral of more complex conditions as needed

  • Consultative partnerships with other care providers, such as family practitioners, nurse practitioners, and surgeons

  • Community-based activities in sports medicine, school health, and public health.

Pediatric Medical Subspecialties
Pediatric residents who choose to focus on a particular aspect of child health, either exclusively or as a part of their general pediatric practice, complete a subspecialty fellowship after residency.

Pediatric subspecialists are more likely to work in academic settings, where their responsibilities include teaching and research along with direct patient care. According to AAP PLACES data,  full-time pediatric subspecialists work, on average, 52 hours per week compared to 42 hours for full-time generalists.

Other Subspecialty Options
While the majority of physicians who care for children practice general pediatrics or a pediatric medical subspecialty, many complete a pediatric fellowship after achieving board certification in another specialty. A board-certified surgeon, for example, might complete a fellowship in pediatric orthopedic surgery.

There are many ways that physicians earn credentials required to care for children. Specialty boards sometimes partner to oversee combined training programs (eg, internal medicine-pediatrics). Board-certified pediatricians earn "certificates of added qualifications" in related disciplines via arrangements between the American Board of Pediatrics and another specialty board.

Pediatric subspecialists of all kinds are physicians who like to "dig deep" in an area of focus while maintaining long-term relationships with patients and families. "My job allows me to work with people and to work with cutting-edge technology," one pediatric cardiologist says. "I am able to follow my patients from the newborn period until young adulthood, and not a day goes by that I do not learn something or see something that I have never seen before. If I live to be 100, I will never be bored."

Pediatrics and Preparing for Your Medical Education >>>

            print           email           share