Pursuing a medical career as a pediatrician allows you to use your expertise to help the most vulnerable members of our society. As a pediatrician, you’ll play a crucial role in providing optimal health from infancy to the border of adulthood. Although being a pediatrician is a wonderful profession and a worthwhile endeavor, there are two sides to every coin. Therefore, knowing what a pediatrician does and the advantages and disadvantages of being one will help you determine if it’s worth pursuing. 

In this guide, we’ll delve deeper into the pros and cons of being a pediatrician and your role and responsibilities as a pediatrician. So join us as we explore what makes a career as a pediatrician rewarding and worthwhile. 

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What Is a pediatrician?

A pediatrician is a specialized doctor who cares for and treats children from birth until the age of 18. Besides caring for the physical health of children of all ages, they also focus on their emotional and social health. The role of pediatricians involves treating children for common illnesses and infections, performing routine evaluations and well-child exams. While many pediatricians prefer to provide general practice, some choose to treat specific health issues in children from infancy to young adulthood. 

In general, the responsibilities of pediatricians include:

  • Monitoring and answering parents’ questions about children’s milestones in growth and behavior;
  • Providing support and guidance on behavioral issues and mental health concerns;
  • Monitoring, treating, and managing chronic medical conditions;
  • Handling medical emergencies and providing immediate care;
  • Providing preventive care;
  • Advocating for child health initiatives and contributing to public health campaigns;
  • Maintaining detailed patient medical records;
  • Writing prescriptions for medications;
  • Administering vaccines;
  • Diagnosing and treating illnesses, infections, injuries, and other health problems.

Is Being a Pediatrician Worth It?

Is Being a Pediatrician Worth It_

Let’s examine the pros and cons of pursuing a career as a pediatrician to help you make an informed decision about your future. 

Pros of being a pediatrician

Overall, being a pediatrician offers you the chance to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and their families while enjoying a diverse and fulfilling career. Here are some other benefits that make being a pediatrician worthwhile. 

Diverse specialties

Pediatrics is a broad field that offers a diverse range of opportunities, either as a general pediatrician or working in a specific sub-specialty that caters to different aspects of children’s health and well-being. Here are some of the subfields or subspecialties within pediatrics:

  • Pediatric Cardiology: Becoming a pediatric cardiologist allows you to specialize in diagnosing and treating heart problems in children, including congenital heart defects and arrhythmias. 
  • Pediatric Oncology: As a pediatric oncologist, you’ll specialize in treating cancers affecting children and young adults, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and brain tumors. 
  • Adolescent Medicine: Specializing in adolescent medicine allows you to concentrate on addressing the unique health needs of adolescents and young adults, such as puberty, menstrual problems, eating disorders, etc.
  • Neonatology: As a neonatologist, you’ll specialize in providing care for newborn infants, particularly those who are premature or who have complex medical issues. 
  • Pediatric Endocrinology: Specializing in pediatric endocrinology allows you to treat hormonal disorders, diabetes, and growth disorders in children. 

High earning potential

Another advantage of becoming a pediatrician is that you’ll receive a high compensation. According to BLS, pediatricians have an average annual salary of $205,860. However, you can expect a higher earning potential depending on your employer, level of expertise, and geographic location. For example, the average salary you can expect working in outpatient care centers is $222,220, whereas the salary for working in a physician’s office is $209,070. As for geographic location, you can expect a higher earning potential in Mississippi, Iowa, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Besides a high salary, the perks of being a pediatrician also include employee benefits such as health insurance and paid time off.

Flexible working hours

Although most careers in medicine tend to have long working hours, as a pediatrician, you can often enjoy some degree of flexibility in scheduling your day, leading to a better work-life balance. You may work 40 to 50 hours a week as a full-time pediatrician and you won’t have to work at night. You can also work part-time, allowing you to take on other responsibilities such as pursuing education or family commitments. A part-time schedule will also allow you to ease into retirement while still seeing your patients.

Continual learning

Lastly, what makes a career in pediatrics worthwhile is that you’ll have abundant opportunities for professional development and ongoing education throughout your career. Here are some of the ways you can continue learning as a pediatrician:

  • Continuing Medical Education (CME): To maintain your medical license, you must participate in CME activities such as seminars, conferences, and online courses.
  • Fellowship Training: After completing a residency program in pediatrics, you can pursue specialized training in a pediatrics subspecialty that interests you.
  • Research: An excellent avenue for professional development and ongoing education is engaging in research activities, publishing papers, presenting at conferences, and contributing to advancements in the field. 

Cons of being a pediatrician

Although the benefits of being a pediatrician outweigh the cons of being one, it’s essential to delve into the potential challenges and drawbacks associated with a career in pediatrics. Here are some of the less favorable aspects of the profession. 

Long hours

A common drawback to a career in pediatrics and all other healthcare careers is the demanding work hours. You can maintain regular working hours as an office-based pediatrician, but working in hospitals, urgent care centers, or emergency departments may require you to work long shifts exceeding 10 hours. Moreover, you may have to be on-call duties, so you must be available to work at night, over weekends, or on holidays, meaning a healthy work/life balance can be challenging. While this demanding nature of working hours can be overwhelming, you can overcome it through time management strategies, self-care practices, and effective support systems. 

Stressful work environments

Although pediatrics isn’t the most stressful specialty in the medical field, it can be highly stressful in several ways. Having the expertise to work with children of all ages comes with a lot of responsibility, as you may encounter patients with severe illnesses or traumatic injuries. Another light stressor in your daily job can be children who are scared of doctors, which can be overwhelming on a busy day. Moreover, you may also deal with distraught parents, deliver difficult news, explain diagnoses, and provide emotional support. Despite working in a high-pressure and emotionally taxing environment, you can become motivated by seeking counseling and colleague support. 

Emotional toll

As a pediatrician, you may form close bonds with children and their families as you navigate treatment plans, progress over time, and provide support during difficult times. Watching your patients suffer can take an emotional toll on you — especially when you’ve tried all possible ways to help them recover. Constant exposure to suffering and trauma without support or self-care can result in burnout and compassion fatigue. Therefore, it’s crucial to prioritize self-care activities like exercise, journaling, or deep breathing exercises, and seek support from professionals or colleagues to ensure your overall well-being. 

Administrative burden

Alongside your clinical duties, as a pediatrician, you must also perform administrative tasks, which can often be a source of stress and frustration. According to a survey by Medscape on physician burnout and depression, 62% of physicians reported that bureaucratic tasks like charting and paperwork contribute most to their burnout. As a pediatrician, you also need to code medical services and procedures accurately, as any error in coding and billing can result in delays in payment and potential audits. To alleviate some of the stress and frustration, you can delegate non-clinical tasks when possible and leverage technology to automate tasks. 

Bottom Line

While there are disadvantages to being a pediatrician, such as long hours, emotional toll, and stressful work environments, there are also advantages that make it a worthwhile career. These benefits include flexible working hours, high earning potential, diverse specialties options, and professional development opportunities. Therefore, if you love working with children and want to improve the health of injured or ill children, a career as a pediatrician would be perfect for you. 

As you take on the decade-long adventure of becoming a pediatrician, it’s important to keep sight of the first steps you need to take on your journey. So, explore our M.D. program and take the opportunity to study in a transformative environment that goes beyond textbooks and classrooms!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a pediatrician a doctor?

Pediatricians are medical doctors specializing in treating children of all ages. They play a crucial role in diagnosing various conditions and illnesses affecting children, providing preventive care, and providing referrals to a specialist if needed. 

Can pediatricians be millionaires?

Yes, pediatricians can become millionaires, especially if they invest wisely and own their private practices. Moreover, on average, they earn a salary of $205,860, which allows them to pay off student loans and invest in 401ks and Roth IRAs. 

What is the lowest-paid pediatrician?

According to BLS, the lowest-paid pediatricians receive a compensation of $85,120. 

Will pediatricians be needed in the future?

Yes, pediatricians will be needed in the future. The BLS reports a 1% increase in job outlook, with projected employment of 36,200 by 2032.

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