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Become a pediatrician after the Au Pair stay

by Felicia on Jan 30, 2020
Become a pediatrician after the Au Pair stay
One of the main aspects of the Au Pair program is taking care of the Host Kids but after the Au Pair stay many applicants will probably realize that they are not cut out for it. Others, on the contrary,  will decide to pursue a career where kids are definitely central. Besides being a teacher, a social worker and a children’s entertainer, there is another job that whoever is good with kids might be interested in: the pediatrician. Here you are - a general overview of the pediatric doctor’s job profile.

The pediatrician: definition and specializations

The word pediatrician comes from the greek paîs which means “child”.  As the word suggests, a pediatrician is  the doctor responsible for the children’s health. 
 
You probably remember those endless afternoons when your parents used to bring you to the doctor: the excessively coloured waiting rooms, the walls filled with strange drawings, markers and teddy bears everywhere that you could stumble on them - the latter often used as a strategy to get the fast track to the medical office. Then, you would enter a silent room, with rigorously white walls, full with unfamiliar and terrifying tools. Even if crying was the only thing you wanted to do, you had to be strong, otherwise you wouldn’t get the lollipop at the end of the visit. Yes, that was a compromise that every kid had to accept.
 
Well, looking backwards as an adult, just  stop for a second and think about the person who was in charge of checking every kid in the waiting room and making them feel a little bit better. We all have to show our respect!
The pediatrician is, in fact, responsible for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of common and less-commons diseases and conditions that may affect a child. A general pediatric looks after infants, children and teens, until the age of 14 or 16.
 
He/she can either work in a private office or at the hospital and there are various specializations within the field of general pediatrics. Amongst them you can find:
  • neonatology, which deals with newborn and premature babies or those with problems at birth
  • neuropediatrics, concerning pathologies of the nervous system
  • pediatric cardiology, focused on children with heart conditions
  • pediatric oncology, dealing with tumors

Studying medicine: can I really do that?

Being a pediatrician is hard but becoming a pediatrician is even harder! Medicine is widely known for being one of the most difficult faculties at University. Not only because making it through more than 6 years of studying is tough, but even because being accepted is not as easy as ABC.

Get ready for the numerus clausus!

Most Medicine faculties have the numerus clausus, meaning that you have to pass an entry test to begin your medicine studies. The process may vary from country to country, though: in France everyone can register at medicine but there is a numerus clausus test every year. If you fail the test two times, you will be expelled from the faculty. In Italy, Germany, Belgium, Iceland and Finland - among many other countries -  you have to take the entry test before the beginning of your studies. This test is aimed to restrict the number of candidates, in order to maintain an overall high quality. In the US, on the other hand, the admission depends on the academic background of the applicant.
 
The competition is hard but necessary. As a future medicine student you will face subjects like anatomy, biology, psychology, surgery, histology and many more, that is why you have to be prepared to study a lot. We know that this path can seem endless but it’s not impossible. Many people have graduated with excellent results and got to realize their dream! Instead of focusing on the negative part, try to imagine how proud of yourself you can be after finishing your medicine studies. Every effort you made will be paid back by a rewarding career. And remember, there is no “easy” way in life. 

How to become a pediatrician

Becoming a pediatrician is certainly a brave decision and, before taking it, you should be prepared to dedicate yourself to studying for many years. 
In general, the first step to take is studying medicine. Then, after a 4-6 years degree, you can apply for the pediatric  specialization and this process varies from country to country. The specialization can involve a practical part, where you can gain experience working in a hospital or a clinic, alongside a senior doctor.
The medicine studies can be very different from country to country, so we have listed the specific procedure for a few countries you may be interested in. Have a look!
  • USA: in order to be a pediatric doctor in the USA, you should have a bachelor’s degree in medicine (3 years) and then apply to a medical school which takes up to four years.  Before obtaining the official license, you must do a three year residency studies.
  • Italy: in Italy, you can become a pediatrician after 6 years of medicine. After the graduation and having succeeded in getting the official license, through a “state exam”, you can apply to the pediatric specialization which lasts 5 years. 
  • UK: in the UK you need a 5-year degree in medicine and a medical residency training which may last between two and three years.
  • Germany: after a 5-year medical degree, there is a specialization in Kinder- und Jugendmedizin for 60 months. Within these months, 6 months will focus on a specific field of pediatrics, like Children psychiatry. In Germany the medicine studies are divided into three parts, called Vorklinik, Klinik and practise year. At the end of the three parts, you have to pass the state exam.

How much would you earn as a pediatrician

Consider that in most countries, the practise years of a pediatrician’s education are paid a minimum salary: in the US resident can get around $ 40,000 per year, whereas in Italy the annual wage is around € 20.000. A licensed doctor gets $ 170.000 in the US and up to £105,000 in the UK. In Spain and in Italy the annual wage would be around € 100.000.

Competences and soft-skills

Competence - or theoretical knowledge - is a key point for a doctor and that is why a proper education requires many years of studying. The human body is extremely complex and complicated and a person who works with it has to know how it works. But, this isn’t it. One of the critical aspects of the medicine studies is that students are often not trained to deal with patients. Given that knowledge is fundamental, we don’t have to forget that a doctor must know how to communicate with the person he/she is taking care of. That is why a good doctor needs to have the so-called soft-skills, to be fully prepared to work. Let’s just mention a few of them, with which you may be familiar with:
  • listening and observational skills: this may seem obvious but, for adults it’s relatively easy to identify a problem, because they are able to express it, with kids it could be more complicated (babies don’t speak yet)! That’s why a pediatrician should be able to listen and to observe the non-verbal communication in order to find out the problem.
  • communication skills: as an Au Pair, you already know that gaining a child's trust can be difficult. A good pediatrician must therefore be able to communicate with children and make them feel safe.
A pediatrician becomes somehow part of the family because he/she not only helps the children, but also their Families, supporting them through difficult moments, or just reassuring them that their offsprings won’t die if they play outside when it’s raining. So, think about it and let us know if we convinced you to become a pediatric doctor! We may need you in the future! 

Still not sure whether this career fits you? Have a look at our job series. You will surely get an inspiration!
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