Pediatric hospitalists are specialists in the treatment of children in a hospital setting. The work typically entails medical testing, treatment of illness, contact with families, contact with other pediatricians, and contact with other medical professionals in the process of coordinating medical treatment for children. If you wish to become a pediatric hospitalist, you generally will need to have a college degree, a medical degree, and post-medical degree training.
You can get a bachelor's degree in any academic subject you wish. Granted, if you want to become a pediatric hospitalist, it is typically necessary to include science courses in your college academic program, such as chemistry, biology, and physics, because those courses are usually required to apply to medical school after college. Also, doing well in your science courses and other courses in college can be important because having a high grade point average (GPA) will help convince prospective medical schools that you have the intellectual ability and academic stamina necessary to succeed in medical school.
Volunteering at a health clinic during the college years is also potentially a helpful step if you want to become a pediatric hospitalist. Doing volunteer work enables you to observe and learn about what it is like to work in a medical setting. Also, volunteering in a clinic will enable you to network with others who can give you useful information, letters of recommendation, or career advice that will be useful to you as you pursue your studies to become a pediatric hospitalist.
Application to medical school will usually occur during the final year of college. You can apply directly to the medical schools you are interested in or you could apply through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). The Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree is typically recommended for anyone who wants to become a pediatric hospitalist. Typically, application will require your college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and your scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) which assesses your science skills, problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills.
Completion of medical school usually takes four years. During that time, there will be coursework such as physiology, pathology, histology, biochemistry, and pharmacology. In addition, there will be the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), which you must pass before being allowed to practice medicine. Parts one and two of the USMLE, which include an assessment of basic science and an assessment of skills in health promotion and disease prevention, can be taken while in medical school. Part three of the USMLE, which assesses the ability to practice medicine unsupervised and which also assesses knowledge of patient management in ambulatory settings, is typically taken after medical school.
After medical school, there will be post-medical school training that includes at least three years of residency. The residency years will include specific training in pediatrics, which includes exposure to areas such as intensive care, outpatient care, nursery care, emergency pediatrics, or any other area that the residency setting provides training in. Also, passing the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) board certification exam and successfully attaining physician licensure in the state you hope to practice in will be necessary as well.
When you become a pediatric hospitalist, it is necessary to remember that having good medical skills is just one part of the job. This career also requires excellent social interaction skills. For example, listening well and being sensitive to patients' emotional needs is important; however, if you can excel at having medical knowledge and excel in social interaction with patients and others, being a pediatric hospitalist could be a career option for you.