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How to Become a US Navy Pediatrician

by Jeffrey Joyner, studioD

The typical pediatrician in the Navy has a patient base that is similar to their civilian counterparts, and they treat a wide range of illnesses and injuries. Although Navy pediatricians primarily provide medical care to dependents, they also participate in humanitarian efforts around the world as well as stateside. Becoming a Navy pediatrician requires years of preparation.

Obtain Undergraduate Degree

Although some universities offer a program that combines a bachelor's degree and a medical degree, most students obtain their bachelor's degree first. There is no single undergraduate degree that is mandatory for admission to medical school. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, medical schools prefer well-rounded students who not only have high grades in biology, organic chemistry and other sciences, but also have a history of volunteering, participating in medical research projects and expanding their cultural understanding. Fluency in a foreign language is also desirable.

Complete Medical School

Approximately 18 months prior to the date students want to start medical school, they must take the Medical School Admission Test, or MCAT. Specific programs vary, but typically, the first two years are spent in classrooms. The last two years are usually spent in clinicals -- obtaining first-hand experience in examining, diagnosing and treating patients. Once accepted to a medical school, students who qualify as Navy officers may be eligible for a program in which the Navy pays medical school tuition and fees in exchange for a seven-year commitment to serve in the Navy after graduation. The Navy also offers scholarships and programs that can also provide stipends and housing allowances. A local health professions recruiter can advise interested students on the availability and current requirements for the program.

Complete Residency in Pediatrics

A residency in general pediatrics takes three years to complete. Completion of the residency is required if the physician plans to become board-certified. The Navy can assist residents who qualify by providing annual grants of up to $45,000 and monthly stipends to pay living expenses.

Qualify as a Navy Officer

All Navy officers must be U.S. citizens and able to pass a physical. Physician officers must be at least 21 but typically no older than 64, although waivers are possible for exceptional candidates. They must have graduated from an accredited medical school and completed at least one year of graduate-level training. If candidates have not already obtained a state medical license, they must do so within 12 months of entering the Navy. They must pass a background check, and typically, they cannot have more than two minor dependents.

Navy Pediatrician Pay

Navy pediatricians receive the same basic pay as other officers of the same rank and length of service. At the lowest pay grade of O-1, monthly basic pay ranged from $2,876.40 to $3,619.20 in 2013, while an O-2 earned between $3,314.10 and $4,586.40. Pay for an O-3 was between $3,835.50 and $6,240, and an O-4 earned between $4,362.30 and $7,283.70. Pediatricians were eligible for a $20,000 annual incentive payment plus additional special payments of as much as $1,000 per month. They could also receive a housing allowance for civilian housing that was a minimum of $660.90 per month and a food allowance of up to $1,100 per month, depending on family size.

About the Author

Jeffrey Joyner has had numerous articles published on the Internet covering a wide range of topics. He studied electrical engineering after a tour of duty in the military, then became a freelance computer programmer for several years before settling on a career as a writer.

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