Job Profile: Pediatrician
By Erin Rebello
Do you love working with children? Have you considered a career in the medical field? Does diagnosing illnesses sound like fun to you? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, then a career in pediatrics might just be the one for you! Pediatricians are a specific type of doctor that work with children ranging in age from 0 to 18. Most pediatricians facilitate check-ups with patients in a clinic or doctor’s office, but a few of the more specialized ones work with specific populations, like premature-babies, or children with cancer. In fact, you might have even visited a pediatrician in the past as a young child without knowing! A career in pediatrics can be very fulfilling, but there’s definitely a lot you have to do before you perform your first check-up.
Like any other doctor specialty, a career in pediatrics is a lifelong commitment, and thus requires a lot of education. After high school, you’ll first spend the next four years in university to get your bachelor’s degree. Then, you’ll need to spend another four years in medical school to get your MD. Although you’re technically a doctor after getting your MD, you still need at least three more years of training in a residency before you’re a fully-fledged pediatrician! After that, many pediatricians go into outpatient care (clinics) while the minority will spend more time in specific residencies for further training. In total, training to be a pediatrician takes over 11 years and is definitely a huge commitment. Not only this, but being a physician in Canada is extremely difficult, and only around 10% to 20% of applicants get into medical school every year. Although being a pediatrician is doable, you’ll have to make sure to study really hard!
Although being a doctor requires a lot of education, there’s definitely a huge payoff in terms of salary. During your three or more years of residency after getting your MD, you’ll typically make around $60,000, which is no “chump change!” After being a fully-fledged pediatrician, your salary will likely double or triple. In Ontario, the average pediatrician will make around $230,000 every year. In most other provinces, the average salary of a pediatrician remains in the $200,000 to $300,000 range, and only fluctuates slightly based on the cost of living in the region.
Outlook and Opportunities
Another great thing about a career in pediatrics is the fact that physicians are always in demand. In fact, with Canada’s physician shortage, pediatricians are more in demand than ever before! For this reason, there is a very positive outlook for a career in pediatrics, both now and in the future.
In addition to the longevity of a career in pediatrics, being a pediatrician also opens the door to many other opportunities. As mentioned early, many pediatricians have the ability to further advance their careers by taking an additional residency to learn a new set of skills. Some pediatric specialties include surgery, emergency medicine, oncology (cancer specialty), and much more. Because of this, pediatricians have a lot of options as to how they can shift their careers if they want a change from outpatient care.
How to Get Started
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably very eager to learn about what you can do to start on your path to becoming a pediatrician. In elementary and even high school, there isn’t much that you can do to prepare for a career in medical school. Your grades start to matter more in university, and even then, you’ll only start to learn actual medicine in medical school. Although this might seem disheartening, it’s actually really good, as it gives you plenty of time to learn and grow as a person. That way, when you’re in university you’ll have thought long and hard about whether a career in medicine and pediatrics is right for you.