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Does Your Kid Want to Be a Doctor? This Is What It Takes

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I want to be a pediatrician when I get older. Any advice? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Michelle Sandberg, pediatrician and founding board member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, on Quora.

Being a pediatrician is a great job choice. I've been practicing pediatrics for about fifteen years and have found it incredibly rewarding. I've developed an interest in pediatric epidemics -- specifically obesity, food allergies, and gun violence. I've been able to use my training and experience to both practice medicine in the primary, urgent care, and hospital settings, and also for public health and advocacy work. The combination has been very rewarding and intellectually stimulating.

As for advice about becoming a pediatrician, what helped me most was my clinical rotations during medical school. I started medical school thinking I wanted to become a psychiatrist or adolescent medicine doctor. Surprisingly those were two of my least favorite rotations, and I couldn't imagine myself having a career in either. It was during my pediatrics rotation that I was the happiest, both in terms of interest in the medicine/science and also being able to relate to the pediatricians. I felt comfortable with the pediatricians I worked with and in the culture of the field.

The path to getting into medical school and graduating is long and challenging. There is a lot of hard work required and a lot of delayed gratification. I remember taking organic chemistry during the summer before my junior year in college, which meant I essentially gave up my summer and spent almost every waking minute studying for weekly Monday exams for a two-month period. I remember missing parties and fun events that summer and at various times in college when I was studying for pre-med classes or preparing my application to medical school. But I knew it was what I wanted, and was able to keep up an intense pace at times knowing I would be rewarded in the end if I could achieve my goals.

My advice is to apply yourself and remember the reward at the end, but also keep an open mind. You may find that medicine isn't for you at some point, or that the fields you were interested in are no longer appealing and other fields are more compelling. Enter into your studies and your clinical rotations with an ethic of hard work and also an open mind. For me the reward has been a fulfilling and stimulating career, and also great flexibility that has allowed me to enjoy my family life and be an engaged mother as well.

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