Medical Career Decisions: Do I want to go into Pediatrics or Family Medicine?

April 1, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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As a pre medical student, you must make decisions about the kinds of patients that you want to work with and the kinds of medical responsibilities you are willing to undertake as a physician.  If you want to work on the front lines of medicine and provide patient care to a wide patient demographic, you’ll want to consider a career in either family medicine or pediatrics. Here are some factors to consider as you narrow in on your choice.

Education and Training

To become either a pediatrician or family medicine doctor, you’ll pursue nearly the same education and training path: four years of undergraduate studies followed by four years of medical school and then a residency program. A pediatric residency focuses on training for the care of infants, children, and adolescents.  There are also subspecialties within pediatrics, including neonatology, dermatology, and cardiology.  In contrast, a family medicine residency trains a physician to be a broad-based healer of all age groups.  There are also subspecialties within family medicine as well, including adolescent and geriatric medicine. To practice as either a pediatrician or family medicine doctor, you must be board certified.

Duties and Responsibilities

Both pediatricians and family medicine doctor provide care to children and adolescents. Pediatricians, however, are limited to treating this patient demographic, while family medicine allows for the care of patients across all age groups.  Essentially, duties and responsibilities are Shadowing midwifes in the hospitalusually the same. You’ll provide routine physical exams, prescribe medicines, offer preventative care, and order diagnostic tests for more urgent medical problems. There is an overlap in the duties of both the pediatrician and the family medicine doctor. However, pediatricians are only certified to provide care to children and adolescents; family medicine doctors provide care to all spectrums of the human life span. The family medicine physician must be able to relate well to all patients, so versatility in bedside manner is a critical difference between the two paths.

Duties and responsibilities often depend upon work location.  Hospitals are less likely to provide pediatric privileges to family medicine doctors. Private practices allow family medicine doctors to practice a wider range of patient care.

Salary and Career Outlook

Both careers will continue to be in demand in the future, more so now that the Affordable Care Act is providing medical coverage to millions of patients who have never had access to health care. The demand will continue to rise in rural areas especially, where communities have been traditionally underserved and require medical professionals to meet patient needs.  Salary differences exist between pediatricians and family medicine doctors; pediatricians typically earn $190,000 annually while family medicine doctors earn $40,000 more per year.   Physicians who practice a either a pediatric specialty or family medicine specialty are likely to earn more than those offer primary care services.

A career as either a pediatrician or a family medicine doctors can be a rewarding choice, both professionally and financially.  If you are currently a pre medical student who is unsure of which to choose, now is a great time to gain a broad clinical experience which will allow you the opportunity to work with all types of patients. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.