our everyday life

What Undergrad Work Do I Need to Be a Pediatrician?

by Sally Miles

Pediatricians are doctors who care for children from birth through their teenaged, and sometimes college-aged, years. Medical schools specify certain prerequisite courses for admission, but as long as those are completed, aspiring pediatricians may choose what courses to take at the undergraduate level. Medical school admissions are extremely competitive, so prospective applicants must earn the highest grade point average possible while in college.

Choosing a Major

"There is no such thing as the best major for those bound for medical school," according to Wright State University. Any major, whether in the physical sciences, liberal arts or other discipline, allows you to showcase your strengths as a future physician. Choose a program of study you are passionate about, and choose courses that challenge you. Many schools actually discourage a pre-med major, because if your career interests change or you are not accepted to medical school, your career options will be severely limited.

The Sciences

The sciences form the foundation of an aspiring pediatrician's medical studies, and medical school prerequisites include biology, chemistry and physics. Anatomy and physiology are advisable as they will give you a firm grasp of the human body's form and function. Medical schools consider both your overall and science GPAs, so earn the highest grades possible in your undergraduate sciences. If you are particularly strong in science, consider a minor in the field. Success in these challenging courses will set you apart as an applicant.

Mathematics

Pediatricians use math on a regular basis. They must calculate prescription and intravenous fluid dosages based on a child's weight and perform calculations to determine if levels of bodily substances suggest disease. Mathematics calls for sharp problem-solving skills, which pediatricians use when diagnosing their patients' ailments. While most medical schools require calculus and statistics for admission, courses like trigonometry and algebra are helpful as well. The Medical Colleges Admissions Test includes a quantitative section that requires familiarity with mathematical concepts.

Liberal Arts

A liberal arts education equips aspiring physicians with the tools needed to handle professional challenges, according to Harvard College. Take a wide variety of these courses to develop into the well-rounded candidate medical schools desire. Psychology and sociology courses enhance your ability to interact not only with your young patients, but with their families. Foreign language courses prepare you to interact with diverse patient bodies and hospital staffs. History and ethics courses have connections to the modern practice of medicine and provide an opportunity for thoughtful study.

About the Author

Based in the Southeast, Sally Miles has been a freelance writer and editor for nearly a decade. She has written for "For Me" magazine and holds a master's degree in English from Columbia University.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images