Last updated December 31, 2014

Supervising the health of children requires specific medical training. They're at risk for a variety of diseases, from chicken pox to rubella. And no matter what ails children, they need to be treated in a way that is appropriate to their age and weight. Even the nutritional needs of children are different from those of adults.

As a pediatrician, you may advise parents on taking care of their first baby, diagnose childhood cancer, and recognize the symptoms of an eating disorder. If you become a pediatrician, your impact on the health of children will stretch all the way into their adult lives.

Pediatricians are doctors who care for children from birth to early adulthood. They specialize in diseases and ailments specific to young and growing bodies.

“The best part of the job is the tremendous sense of accomplishment I get when a surgical procedure that allows a child to see or preserves his or her vision goes well.”Lou, Pediatric Neuro-ophthalmologist

Are You Ready To...?

  • Talk to teens about birth control
  • Help overweight children start diets to prevent future health problems
  • Order tests to confirm your diagnoses
  • Give babies their immunization shots
  • Treat children for strep throat and other common ailments
  • Advise parents on surgical options and refer them to a surgeon
  • Spend years studying and training, and a lifetime keeping up with advances in medicine
  • Respond to emergencies late at night
  • Work closely with other doctors

It Helps To Be...

Diplomatic, sensitive, and an excellent communicator. You’ll need to listen carefully as your patients or their parents describe their symptoms. Recognizing the common threads among childhood diseases and encouraging parents to promote healthy lifestyles is an important part of the job.

Make High School Count

  • Take plenty of challenging math and science classes, including AP® courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus.
  • Enhance your communication skills through English composition, speech, and drama classes.
  • Sign up for psychology to learn about human nature and explore the mind-body connection.
  • Volunteer at a health clinic, hospital, women’s clinic, or eldercare facility.
  • Explore summer study programs like the University of Massachusetts High School Health Careers Program.

Did You Know?

Some pediatricians specialize in areas such as the heart problems of children.