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How do I Become a Pediatric Rheumatologist?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Pediatric rheumatologists are specialists who treat infants, children, and adolescents with joint problems. They apply their expert knowledge of disease pathology to help young patients with a vast range of autoimmune disorders and injuries. A person who wants to become a pediatric rheumatologist must complete medical school, a three-year residency in pediatrics, and an additional two- to three-year fellowship in the specialty. Intensive training is necessary to prepare a doctor for board certification tests to officially be considered a pediatric rheumatologist.

Before entering medical school, a person generally needs to complete a four-year undergraduate program. A student who wants to become a pediatric rheumatologist can choose to major in biology or a health science subject with a concentration on premedical studies. Many undergraduates apply for internships at local hospitals or doctor's offices as medical aides to gain firsthand experience dealing with patients. Near the end of a bachelor's degree program, a student can take written admissions test and send in application materials to accredited medical schools.

Competition to get into medical school is usually strong, and colleges prefer applicants who have strong grades, recommendation letters, and reasons for wanting to pursue degrees. Once accepted, a student can meet with advisers and instructors to determine which classes will best help him or her become a pediatric rheumatologist. Core lecture and lab classes involve studying disease pathology, organic chemistry, pharmacology, and professional techniques. Additional courses in pediatric care, child psychology, and rheumatism are important for a future specialist. Many schools allow students to participate in rotating internships at hospitals so they can observe physicians in many different divisions of patient care.

With a doctor of medicine degree, a graduate can apply for a three year pediatric residency at a general or children's hospital. During residency training, a new doctor works alongside experienced pediatric physicians while sill attending classes and conducting lab research. He or she develops a strong working knowledge of how to cater medical services to young people. Diseases affect children differently than adults, so expert training is important to ensure that a doctor can provide accurate diagnoses and treatments.

A fellowship program typically follows a residency. Fellowship training provides a doctor with the chance to log several thousand hours of supervised, guided patient care. A fellow works exclusively with young people who have rheumatic disorders, such as arthritis, chronic back pain, and lupus. A successful doctor normally takes a certification exam administered by a national board to earn the right to become a pediatric rheumatologist in a hospital or private practice.

PracticalAdultInsights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon260692 — On Apr 11, 2012

I have arthritis, and I'm just a young teen. I have an 80 percent chance it will go away. I really want this job because no doctor or pediatrician could figure out what was wrong with me. It took many years.

By then I fell in love with soccer and I was good. When a doctor finally figured it out by looking at my hands, it changed everything. I couldn't play the sport I loved. We found out I have arthritis in all my joints. My joints hurt every day. The worst part was believing at could do all this stuff when I was young then suddenly finding out I can't do anything. Please donate to the arthritis foundation.

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