A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in children’s medicine. As a pediatrician, you work with families to provide optimal health from infancy to the border of adulthood. While this seems like a worthwhile and wonderful profession (and it can be!), it’s important to remember there are two sides to every coin. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of being a pediatrician.
Pro: You’re able to help children get healthy and stay healthy.
Being a pediatrician can be incredibly rewarding. Many of your patients will come to you as infants and stay with you until they’re adults themselves. You’re almost solely in charge of helping them learn how to live healthy lifestyles.
Con: It can be an extremely stressful career in several different ways.
There’s a downside to having such an important job, too. Having so much responsibility placed on you as a child’s doctor can be a heavy burden. The lighter stressors might be kids who are afraid of the doctor and of getting vaccinations. Families can be obnoxious, especially parents who are certain they know more about medicine than you do (although it’s important to remember they know more about their children). But perhaps the most stressful aspect of being a pediatrician is that some of your patients get really, really sick. You’re in charge of giving bad news—whether that’s a diagnosis of mono or cancer. And with some illnesses, you have to be prepared to lose your little patients.
Pro: You can make great money and have flexible hours.
Pediatricians make an anywhere from $100,000 to well over $200,000 a year, depending on your geographic location, the kind of facility you work in (office vs hospital), and the kind of work you do. The more specialized your degree, the more money you can make. Additionally, depending on the setting you work in, you may be able to set your own hours. Some pediatricians even work part time. But that isn’t to say the hours don’t get long.
Con: You should expect to sign your life away to medical school.
To be a pediatrician, you can expect to be in school for a long, long time. After finishing your undergraduate and any master’s degrees you may want, medical school takes four years of study, plus a three year residency. Any specialties or subspecialties you might be interested in are likely to take another three years. In addition, most pediatricians are paying for medical school student loans for years—expect at least $150,000.
Pro: If you’re waffling between specialties, you can specialize within pediatric medicine.
Even though pediatrics in itself is a specialty, there are more focused specialties that might interest you. This is a nice option if you can’t decide between two fields of medicine. Some examples of pediatric fields include oncology, cardiology, neonatal care, and endocrinology.
Con: Lots of children means lots of germs and other bodily fluids.
If you’re thinking that being a pediatrician because you can avoid the blood and gore that comes with being a surgeon, you’re wildly incorrect. Sick kids are going to come in covered in spit and snot, a lot of your patients are going to be dirty, and you’re probably going to have to deal with some pretty serious cuts, burns, and other injuries. You’re also going to come into contact with millions of germs on a daily basis. In fact, being a pediatrician is probably going to bring you into contact with more bacteria than some kinds of physicians.