Be or not to be: Educating the pediatrician

Be or not to be: educating the pediatrician

When looking at medical jobs suitable for people who are interested in helping and working with children, there are the choices of being a pediatrician or being a nurse practitioner specialized in pediatrics. Both professions provide the indispensable care of our children, with, of course, differences to what extent. Although, however, these careers are noble, necessary and greatly needed, there are certain difficulties and hardship to get to those positions, especially for the pediatricians.


Educating a pediatrician takes a lot of time and even more money. After completing the pre-med bachelor’s studies, a person who decided to pursue the career of a pediatrician must go through up to four years of medical school. It is preferable to finish the studies with distinction, given that medicine is highly competitive. However, the schooling is far from done – since pediatrics is a specific field of medicine, students will continue the training during their residency for a few more years. Depending on the degree of specialization, it could take up to eleven more years of studying.

Nurse practitioners (NPs), on the other hand, are registered nurses who have additional specialization in different areas, such as pediatrics or family practice. It used to be the case that all nurses finish the nursing schools (AACN) and then obtain a master’s degree in nursing, specializing in a specific field. However, by 2015 all accredited AACNs will require a doctorate in nursing practice for all the fields. That implies finishing a bachelor’s degree in nursing and enrolling in 2-3 years for doctorate programs.

Job-wise, both careers can treat and diagnose children, ensuring their normal development and overall physical and mental health. More often than not, parents take their children to nurse practitioners, rather than to pediatricians. The explanation behind this is that pediatrics NPs appear to spend more time with their patients than busy doctors. However, it is obviously recommended that, if a child has severe problems that require advanced medical training, the help from a doctor needs to be sought.


Being employed as a nurse practitioner brings an average annual salary of $95,000, which can vary and depend on education, experience and simply a job institution. For the pediatricians, however, the median annual salary is about $170,000, with the majority earning about $134,000 per year. Interestingly enough, some pediatrician salaries can go as high as $200,000, but also as low as $84,000.

Even though the situation seems ideal, the problem appears when enormous student loans are taken into consideration. Paying them back undoubtedly influences the figures shown – one has to wonder then if being a pediatrician is really worth it after so many years of hard work. In the end, it does not only matter how much money the job pays, but how much will be left.

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