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Information for Students Considering Becoming Pediatric Surgeons

Higher Education Articles December 21, 2012

If students have an abiding interest in medicine and they love kids, then they can be a pediatric surgeon in the making. By choosing this specialized career option; students will get to surgically treat children’s ailments, including child oncology, child trauma, and prenatal and neonatal surgery. To become a pediatric surgeon, students must commit themselves to fifteen years of education; eight of those years will have to be spent in school while the remaining seven in surgical residency training. In this article, we will look at various elements of a career in pediatric surgery.

Career in Pediatric Surgery Defined

A pediatric surgeon is one who has received training in specialized operative care and diagnosis of children’s ailments that require surgery (source: American College of Surgeons (www.facs.org)). Even though general surgeons are equipped to perform surgery on all individuals including children, pediatric surgeons bring specialized knowledge on specific surgical issues relating to children, including treatment of trauma in young patients, techniques of surgery pertinent to every stage of the development of a child, and repair of birth defects through surgery. A pediatric surgeon has to cooperate with family physicians, pediatricians and neonatal specialists to ensure that their young patients receive the best possible treatment. The pediatric surgeon must have excellent communication skills and interact with the family of the child to guarantee the child’s safety during pre- and post-operative periods.

The Route to a Career in Pediatric Surgery

Education Prerequisites

Prospective pediatric surgeons are required to hold an undergraduate degree in pre-medicine or other related science major, before spending four years in medical school that will be followed by five years’ residency training in general surgery. Thereafter, surgeons are required to take an exam conducted by the American Board of Medical Specialists (www.abms.org) to get awarded with board-certification in general surgery. Further specialization in pediatric surgery are made possible with participation in a two-year residency program; thereafter, the potential pediatric surgeons are required to pass a written exam that will earn them certification in pediatric surgery awarded by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). The certificate is valid for ten years at a time then it has to be renewed.

Pediatric Surgery Skill Prerequisites

Not only should a prospective pediatric surgeon be adequately trained and hold a certificate, they must be genuinely concerned about providing neonates and children with their healthcare needs. Young patients of a pediatric surgeon can be in different developmental stages; therefore, prospective pediatric surgeons must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and child psychology. They must be very precise in the surgical care they provide. They must be sufficiently sensitive in a job that will expect them to interact with patients and their families.

Projected Job Growth for Pediatric Surgeons

The surgical field will continue to grow; According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the field of surgery will grow continuously in the foreseeable future. A job growth rate of fourteen percent has been predicted for all surgeons during the decade from 2006 to 2016; during this time jobs are predicted to be available for pediatric surgeons in medical centers and children’s hospitals. In particular, the demand for all experienced surgeons are expected to be high in regions of countries where income levels of people are deficient; pediatric surgeons can expect to have many job opportunities in such regions as well as in rural areas that lack medical resources.

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