Welcome to medical school! We are excited you are here and considering pediatrics!
Most medical schools devote the first 2 years to classroom and laboratory instruction. Many provide clinical rotations and/or teach the basic sciences (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, histology, pathology, and pharmacology) with a strong clinical correlation. This means, you will also learn how to take a patient history, conduct a physical examination, and make a diagnosis. You’ll become familiar with the art of the patient interview and study psychosocial aspects of medicine.
Time is at a premium during medical school, especially in the beginning. During this time, it’s important to explore and solidify specialty interests. You do not have to commit to a specialty until the end of your 3rd year of medical school, so during the first 2 years you are able to explore a wide variety of specialties. It is okay to do research in one area even if later on you decide to pursue another specialty. Within the field of pediatrics, there is a large breadth of specialties including but not limited to primary care, hospital medicine, intensive care, emergency medicine, medical subspecialties, general surgery, and surgical specialties.
The key is to capitalize on existing opportunities by getting involved in activities within your school and/or your local community. When opportunities to suit your specific interests are not available, partner with faculty that will support you in pursuing these interests.
Examples of opportunities to explore in the field of pediatrics:
- Join your school’s Pediatric Interest Groups (PIGs), which can be a great way to learn more about the field of pediatrics.
- Connect with your pediatric faculty and consider finding a mentor. Most physicians at teaching institutions, including pediatric clerkship directors and residency program directors, are delighted to talk with medical students and are often willing to be shadowed.
- If going straight to pediatric faculty is not what you’d like to do, then your chief resident is a good liaison to pediatric faculty, as well as other residents and fellows. Chief residents can also advise you about other opportunities, including volunteer options within the community.
- Begin exploring opportunities to engage in a clinical research project.
- Consider volunteering for a school health fair or educational event for local children. If none exist, recruit some students and hold your own event for local children!
- Inquire about attending pediatric grand rounds to learn more about the field and hear notable speakers from outside institutions.
- Explore what postgraduate training, including residency and fellowship, may look like for the career path you are interested in.
- Finally, upperclassmen can serve as great resources. Seek out third- and fourth-year medical students who have declared their interest in pediatrics and discuss ways they’ve explored pediatrics in their first 2 years of medical school.
The academic pressure in medical school can be intense. Check out our Physician Health & Wellness Resources
American Academy of Pediatrics