How Many Years of School Does It Take to Become a Pediatrician?

Doctor and nurse examining baby in doctor's office
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If you are interested in becoming a pediatrician, you may wonder how long it will take to complete all of the training until you can practice medicine. The quick answer is that after graduating from high school, a student who wants to become a pediatrician traditionally must complete 11 years of school and training before they can practice pediatric medicine independently as a doctor. But there are different paths you can take and additional opportunities to spend more years specializing in one area of the field.

Years of School to Become a Pediatrician

First, let's look at the formal schooling part of the 11 years. Becoming a pediatrician classically includes:

  • Four years of college​
  • Four years of medical school

This is the traditional path, but there are alternative paths to becoming a pediatrician. These numbers don't include an extra year or two to finish college or medical school if you want to spread out your studies or you have a gap year between them.

At the end of medical school, you can receive your medical degree and apply for a medical license. But your training doesn't stop there, that's just the first step.

Accelerated Premedical/Medical Programs

In addition to simply graduating from college after four years and then going to medical school for another four years, it is possible to get accepted into accelerated programs that let you complete your training early.

These accelerated programs usually include three years of college and four years of medical school, with students getting a bachelor of science degree (BS) after their first year of medical school. There are even a few six-year dual degree programs.

Years of Training to Become a Pediatrician

Of course, you aren't a pediatrician after your six to eight years of college and medical school. To complete your training and become a pediatrician, you also after to complete:

  • One year of a pediatrics internship
  • Two years of a pediatrics residency

That adds up to about 11 years of school and training to become a pediatrician. It is important to note that during your internship and residency years, while you are still learning, you are technically not in school and are getting paid for your work, although it is not a high wage.

You will be matched to a residency program at a medical center where you'll spend those years learning how to diagnose and treat real, live patients in the hospital as well as outpatient clinics. You'll be practicing medicine under the guidance of attending physicians as you learn your craft during these intense years.

Additional Specialty Training

After residency, some pediatricians continue their training to become a pediatric specialist. That could mean another three years (or more) of pediatric fellowship training. Some further subspecialties are in adolescent medicine, pediatric cardiology, pediatric emergency medicine, and neonatal-perinatal medicine.

As you can see, it takes many years of dedicated schooling and training to become a pediatrician. You may want to speak further with a pediatrician to see what they love most about their profession and what challenges they faced during their training.

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Article Sources

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  1. Accelerated Premedical-Medical Program (BS/MD). Penn State University.

  2. Pediatric Fellowship Training. Johns Hopkins Children's Center.