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How do I Become a Pediatric Intensivist?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 April 2018
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The person choosing to become a pediatric intensivist is interested in caring for children in the hospital setting who are suffering from severe illness. Also called pediatric critical care, this specialty requires significant training before doctors can receive board certification. Though requirements may differ, generally these doctors need to complete four years of college, four years of medical school, and back to back residencies and fellowships in pediatrics and in pediatric critical care.

Many high school students decide to become a pediatric intensivist. In high school the best choices students can make toward this goal is to study hard in math and science and to achieve a strong grade point average overall. With good grades and ability to pay for a good college, students can begin undergraduate studies.

There are several choices of majors at the undergraduate level. The classic is the pre-med major, which combines extensive study in math and sciences. Other majors like biochemistry, microbiology, biology, or chemistry could be acceptable too. What tends to be most important is choosing a major that allows study in all courses needed to get a good score on the medical college admission test (MCAT). Most medical schools require high scoring on this test, which is usually taken in senior year, and they also evaluate a student’s fitness for medical school by looking at grade point average.

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In medical school, except in the UK model, students will study for three years and complete a year’s internship prior to becoming licensed to practice. In the UK model students pursue medical school and undergraduate studies concurrently. Both models still require addition training for the person who would like to become a pediatric intensivist. Usually after completing medical school and internship, or in the year of internship, students apply for residency programs in pediatrics. In these programs they’ll spend approximately three years working extensively with children.

The doctor who wants to become a pediatric intensivist continues training after being board certified as a pediatrician, and will opt to complete a fellowship that lasts roughly three more years and that deals specifically with pediatric critical care. These fellowships focus on providing that care and on research elements that can help to improve and inform best critical care practices in the future. Pediatric intensivists very often have research components to their work, though the majority of their time may be taken up by providing direct care to patients.

It’s also important for the doctor who would like to become a pediatric intensivist to consider where he or she wants to live based on likelihood of pursuing a career. Intensivists very often work in large tertiary hospital settings or they work at children’s hospitals. Most of these are located in urban or large suburban settings, and doctors will want to position themselves in these areas to take advantage of job possibilities. Many people do relocate after completing fellowships so they can perform their work, or others get jobs at hospitals where they completed fellowships.

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