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How do I Choose the Best Pediatric Residency Program?

A pediatric residency program is a required step on the path to becoming a pediatrician. Pediatric residencies are two- or three-year programs completed following medical school, but before receiving full certification to practice as a pediatrician. There are hundreds of pediatric residency programs, and the choice as to which to apply for may be daunting. Choosing the best pediatric residency program should be based on personal needs, future career plans, and careful research into options.

Just as a person applies to colleges, a medical student must apply to residency programs and hope to get into a top choice. Many residencies use a large matching service to choose the best candidates, but will sit down for interviews with the most promising potential residents. The interview process is an important chance to ask detailed questions about the pediatric residency programs that involve its strengths, weaknesses, and areas of specialization. Between interviews and rankings websites or publications, it is possible to get a good general view about what each program offers.

One of the most important considerations when choosing a pediatric residency program is location. Residencies are incredibly stressful jobs, and the atmosphere outside the hospital or training facility can do a great deal to relieve stress if chosen well. Consider looking for a program in an area where friends or family live, in order to have access to a stable support system. Try to spend a little time in each area before making a final choice, to determine if the city or town is a place that feels comfortable, safe, or at least survivable for a few years.

Remember that a top ranking doesn't make a program right for everyone. Some people want to be a part of large hospital residency programs where duties are ever-changing and the work is fast-paced. Other people like a smaller program where there is more attention to detail, personal work with attending physicians, and a tight-knit community of medical staff. Choosing a pediatric residency program based on personal preferences may allow for a better experience than choosing one based on ranking or reputation alone.

Research may be one of the most important parts of choosing a pediatric residency program. In addition to the information gleaned in interviews, try to find out as much about the programs in consideration through independent sources. Try to hunt down doctors that have recently completed the program to get an inside, bluntly honest view of the pros and cons. Look online for patient reviews of the facility to find out if it is well regarded for standards of care in the community. Doing research outside of the official material can help create a more comprehensive picture of each residency program.

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