A pediatric endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in children's diseases and disorders related to the endocrine system. This includes such conditions as diabetes and hypothyroidism. To become a pediatric endocrinologist, one must have a medical degree, serve a three- to four-year residency and complete a fellowship study specializing in pediatric endocrinology. Completion of the process can take up to 12 years after graduation from college.
Gaining acceptance to a medical school is the first step one takes to become a pediatric endocrinologist. Most medical schools require a college degree in pre-medicine or a science field such as chemistry or biology. Once the degree is earned, many medical schools, especially in the United States, require that applicants take the Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®). The MCAT® is a measure of a student’s readiness for medical school.
It can take four or more years to earn a degree from a medical college. Most medical degrees are awarded for general medical studies. Medical specialization and the practical knowledge required to become a pediatric endocrinologist begins after medical school with a three- to four-year residency program. During a residency program, new doctors — referred to as residents — are allowed to practice medicine under the tutelage of more experienced practitioners. Residency programs become more specialized in the third and fourth years, when residents choose a career path they wish to pursue.
Once a residency program and licensing exams are successfully completed, a doctor who has chosen to become a pediatric endocrinologist will pursue a fellowship. A fellowship is a three- to four-year course of study in a specialized field of medicine. A fellowship is offered by a medical college, hospital or other healthcare provider. The organization provides on-the-job training in the doctor’s chosen specialty and, in return, the doctor provides his services to the organization. The doctor is normally paid a salary and benefits like any other employee of the organization during this course of study.
With completion of a fellowship, a doctor has done everything necessary to become a pediatric endocrinologist. At this stage, many doctors choose to become board certified in their specialty. Although they are free to practice their specialty without certification, doctors can enhance their qualifications and make themselves more attractive candidates for hire to hospitals and practices by sitting for a set of examinations administered by a board of experts. The most common board certification in the United States is awarded by the American Board of Internal Medicine® (ABIM®).