The Best Medical Schools for Pediatrics

May 24, 2022


Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/23/22

Pediatrics is one of the most commendable and benevolent schools of medical practice. However, becoming a pediatrician requires more than just goodwill. This post includes a list of the best medical schools for pediatrics, as well as a rundown of significant information any future pediatrician should know.

As an aspiring medical practitioner, you possess a drive to help other people. A pediatric practice is among the most caring schools of medicine as it entails helping infants, children, and young people through all stages of their physical development.

Caring for young patients is serious business. It requires a long and thorough educational process before you are allowed to practice. This post will clue you into the best medical schools for pediatrics so you can become the best pediatrician you can be. We will also detail what you need to do to get into the top pediatric medical schools and answer a few frequently asked questions. Read on, for the sake of the children!

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What Future Pediatricians Should Know

Choosing a medical specialization is one of the greatest career decisions a medical practitioner can make. In the interest of keeping you well informed about pediatric practice, we’ll detail what it means to be a pediatrician, the pediatric educational process, and relevant career information.

What is a Pediatrician?

A pediatrician is a medical practitioner who specializes in the development and treatment of patients who are still in the mother’s womb, infants, adolescents, or young adults. As a rule of thumb, pediatricians usually do not care for patients who are over 18 years of age.

In working with younger patients, it is only natural that a pediatrician frequently interacts with parents. This is especially true with regard to pregnant women. A significant part of being a primary care pediatrician is working with expecting parents to ensure the healthy development of their child. This means working with parents before, during, and after pregnancy.

Once you decide to get into pediatrics, you have the choice to become a primary care pediatrician or pursue a medical fellowship and subspecialize. You can always practice as a primary care pediatrician for as long as you wish before continuing your education for a sub specialization.

Like other primary care practices, such as family and internal medicine, primary care pediatricians serve as the first front of medical care. In this case, primary care pediatricians are the first stop for any young patient needing general care, diagnosis, or treatment.

Pediatric subspecialties tend to concentrate the medical responsibilities of a pediatrician. However, certain subspecialities may also focus on the age group of patients that the subspecialized pediatrician sees. Here’s a list of several pediatric subspecialties with brief summaries of their focuses:

 Specialized in the “unique physical, psychological, and social characteristics of adolescents, their healthcare problems and needs.”

Diagnoses and treats child abuse and neglect.

“Evaluate[s], treat[s] and manage[s] infants, children, and adolescents with a wide range of developmental and behavioral concerns and conditions.

“Concerned with the care of critically ill newborn and premature infants.”

Specialized in caring for young patients with cardiovascular issues.

Experts in advanced life support for newborns up to adolescence.

“Manage[s] emergencies in infants and children.”

“Responsible for continuous care in the field of sports medicine,” including enhancement of fitness and injury prevention.

Becoming a subspecialized pediatrician entails a few years of continued education, depending on the particular sub specialization you wish to pursue.

How to Become a Pediatrician

Like any medical practitioner, an aspiring pediatrician will need to go through pre-med, medical school, and residency before they can begin their practice. In total, it is at least an 11-year educational process before you can be a pediatrician. Pursuing a sub specialization will add another two to six years of learning, depending upon the particular sub specialization.

After high school, the road to becoming a pediatrician begins with four years of pre-med. During these years, you should focus on relevant biology and chemistry courses and maintain an adequate grade point average. You will also have to prepare for and take the MCAT exam.

It’s also a great idea to pursue work experience opportunities such as shadowing a general practitioner, volunteering at a hospital or elderly care home, and working as an EMT. In anticipation of your medical school applications, you should get involved with extra-curriculars, especially those that include leadership roles that you may occupy.

After your undergraduate years, you will have to complete four more years of medical school. Typically, the earlier part of your medical school education will focus on basic science and clinical practice courses. Later on, you will participate in clerkships that will give you the chance to actually work with patients and acquire hands-on clinical experience.

For pediatrics, you will have to complete three years of medical residency. These years will be spent in clinical practice, where you will diagnose and treat patients under the supervision of experienced doctors and more senior residents. You will also be able to dabble in pediatric subspecialties to get a better idea of your future career aspirations.

Once you’ve completed your resident years, you can now take the three-part USMLE licensing exams in order to become a practicing primary care pediatrician. These exams will test your knowledge of the basic sciences and clinical concepts needed for unsupervised medical practice.

Becoming a pediatrician is a long and difficult journey. However, the opportunity to help parents and children through their medical difficulties makes it all worthwhile. Plus, the annual salary will drop your jaw.

How Much Does a Primary Care Pediatrician Make?

You are pursuing a pediatric profession out of the kindness of your heart, not to get rich. The fact that you will become rather rich as a result of your pediatric practice is merely incidental.

According to US News, pediatricians have made an average salary of $184,570 in recent years. The highest-paid 25% of pediatricians have earned around $208,000, while the lowest-paid 25% made a still impressive $126,930. Moreover, the smiles that jewel the faces of your young patients are absolutely priceless.

Top Pediatric Medical Schools in the US

Getting an excellent pediatric education in medical school will make your residency and licensure exam experiences much easier. Here’s a list of the best medical schools for pediatrics, so you know where to go to excel in your chosen field.

The University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

The Perelman School of Medicine is not only the ninth-best research-focused medical school in the country, but it’s also the unsurpassed US medical education for pediatrics. The University of Pennsylvania is also the home of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the “oldest hospital in the United States dedicated exclusively to pediatrics.”

In addition to its excellent pediatric clinical care, U Penn also cultivates a medical curriculum that is invaluable to any future pediatrician. This is in large part due to the “cutting-edge research” available through the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Research Institute. Moreover, the university is home to nationally recognized divisions in adolescent medicine, developmental and behavioral pediatrics, and neonatology.

Harvard University Medical School

The Medical School at Harvard University is a close second place behind UPenn for the best medical school for pediatrics. However, Harvard beats UPenn by being the eighth-best medical school for primary care, as well as the very best in research-focused medical education in the nation.

Medical education at Harvard is unique in that all its pre-clerkship courses are graded on a pass/fail basis. Still, the passing standards at Harvard are high. As an HMS student, you will have to study harder and perform better than you would at any letter-grade-based medical school.

The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

While the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine offers a rather mediocre general medical education, it still excels in pediatric-focused instruction. In fact, the Cincinnati College of Medicine offers the third best medical education for pediatrics in the entire country.

UC’s impressive pediatrics education is largely due to the medical school’s relationship with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The medical school’s affiliation with Cincinnati Children’s is especially beneficial to residents as they are appointed to the pediatric medical center.

The Johns Hopkins University Medical School

The Medical School at Johns Hopkins University is the nation’s fourth-best school for pediatrics, but it beats every previously listed medical school on this list in terms of research-focused education. The school also includes the Johns Hopkins Hospital, which houses the only pediatric center in Maryland.

One reason why medical education at Johns Hopkins is so invaluable is the unique method of the medical school’s curriculum. Instead of separating preclinical and clinical years of study, Johns Hopkins offers concurrent theoretical and practical learning opportunities.

The University of California - San Francisco Medical School

Much like Harvard Medical School, the University of California - San Francisco Medical School offers a well-rounded education. According to US News, UCSF provides students with the second-best primary care education and fourth-best research education in the entire country. Additionally, UCSF is the fifth-best medical school for pediatrics.

The Medical School at UCSF possesses an impressive student support system. Students who are interested in pediatrics can benefit from mentoring, electives, and special events that are geared toward the medical specialization. Relevant fourth-year electives include ambulatory pediatrics, pediatric intensive care, pediatric gastroenterology, and many more.

University of Colorado Medical School

Students who want the fifth-best pediatric education in the country but can’t make the trip to California can still attend the University of Colorado Medical School. CU’s medical school ties with UCSF for the fifth-best in the US. Colorado also provides a near identical primary care-based medical education with the sixth-best in the country.

Additionally, the University of Colorado Medical School provides students who are interested in pediatrics the opportunity to study within a broad range of subspecialties and related programs. In total, the school offers 24 different pediatric subspecialties electives and 14 pediatric programs.

The Baylor College of Medicine

Like the University of Cincinnati, the Baylor College of Medicine makes up for its somewhat mediocre general medical education with an excellent specialized education in pediatrics. Baylor offers the seventh best medical education in the country, complete with a massive range of pediatric educational training opportunities.

Duke University Medical School 

While Duke University medical school is tied with Baylor for the seventh-best pediatric education in the country, it stands as a much more well-rounded overall medical education. In addition to its impressive pediatrics department, Duke is the third-best research-based medical education in America.

A large part of Duke’s pediatric excellence is the school’s extensive pediatric curriculum. By the second year of medical studies at Duke, you can participate in a pediatric clerkship. The third year of study includes pediatric research opportunities for students. The final year of study opens students up to 17 electives related to pediatrics.

Students at Duke Medical School can thrive in an academic environment that is carefully designed to cultivate expert pediatricians.

How to Get into the Best Medical Schools for Pediatrics

Every medical school on this list has high expectations for its entering students. Like any top medical school, the best medical schools for pediatrics want a student who demonstrates academic excellence, practical knowledge, and community involvement.

Recently, many top medical schools have been switching over to a more holistic admissions process. This means universities are now as concerned with your work and volunteer experience as with your GPA and MCAT scores.

Experience with children is a great asset when applying to one of the best medical schools for pediatrics. Whether it’s through volunteer work or a job, previous interaction with children demonstrates your commitment to helping younger people with their issues, medical or otherwise.

Consider volunteering your time to tutoring programs, teaching assistant opportunities, or any other experience where you work with children. It’s one thing to say you are dedicated to helping young patients, but actual experience helping kids is a needed demonstration of your commitment.

FAQs: The Best Medical Schools for Pediatrics

Choosing a medical specialization is a massive career choice. It’s only natural that you should have many questions about becoming and being a pediatrician. Here’s some frequently asked questions on the subject to make things a bit more clearer for you.

1. What Makes a Good Pediatrician?

There are several key attributes that make an ideal pediatrician. One of the most obvious is a thorough clinical knowledge of your medical specialty, which any of the listed best medical schools for pediatrics should provide.

Beyond the classroom, a great future pediatrician is great with kids of all ages, patient enough to handle working with young people, and driven by compassion to help children through healthy development and any required treatment.

2. What Are Some Challenges Related to Pediatric Practice?

You may find it difficult to diagnose your patients when it means you have to communicate with a child who may lack the needed powers of articulation. This is why patience is a required virtue for any pediatrician. Likewise, you will have to deal with parents who may have strong opinions regarding their child’s development and treatment.

Moreover, you will likely have to witness a child suffering from an ailment at some point during your pediatric career. While this may be difficult to face, you will at least play a key role in treating the child and easing their suffering.

3. Is Board Certification Required to Become a Pediatrician?

Board certification is not required to become a pediatrician. You simply need to complete your undergraduate education, your medical education, a pediatric residency, and the USMLE examinations for licensure.

However, you can pursue board certification with the American Board of Pediatrics if you wish. This essentially reinforces your expertise in pediatrics.

4. Which of the Top Medical Schools for Pediatrics is Easiest to Get Into?

With an acceptance rate of about 9%, the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine is by far the easiest medical school on this list to get accepted to. However, it is important to note that the very best medical school for pediatrics is also relatively easy to get accepted to.

The University of Pennsylvania is the second easiest medical school to get accepted to on this list. It has an acceptance rate of about 4%, which sounds daunting, though it is disproportionate to the amazing pediatric education you can get at the Perelman School of Medicine.

5. What are the Highest Paying Pediatric Subspecialties?

With an average annual salary of $385,479, pediatric cardiology is the highest paying pediatric subspecialization you can pursue. A close second is pediatric emergency medicine at $366,779, and pediatric critical care medicine is a more distant yet still considerable $236,466 average annual salary.

6. What are the Best Paying States for Pediatricians?

The following list should illustrate the five best paying states for primary care pediatricians in the US:

Table showing the mean annual salary of the five best paying states for primary care pediatricians in the US

Final Thoughts

Becoming a pediatrician is a long and difficult educational process. Our list of the best medical schools for pediatrics will help you acquire a relatively early expertise in the medical specialization, making the rest of your education much easier. Attend any one of the medical schools on this list and you will be a practicing pediatrician in no time.

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