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Medical Education
Medical Student Education

Career Information: Medicine-Pediatrics

Specialty: Medicine-Pediatrics

Completed by: Heather Nye and Bradley Monash

Date updated: October 2014

  1. What can students do in the 1st and 2nd years to explore and/or prepare for this career?
    I would first stress that it is important to not feel pressured to make a decision too soon. There are always students who change their minds many times through medical school, and some need to take time after completing medical school to figure this out. I would suggest paying close attention to interest groups and attending gatherings to get to know more about the culture and lifestyle of different physicians in different fields. There are plenty of informal get-togethers with residents present – they may serve as your best resources to get the nitty-gritty of training. Shadow Med Peds physicians when possible (don't be shy!) to learn about their perspectives and to get an idea of daily life. Be wary of those who are critical of any particular training program or fields of practice, without having a true understanding of what they entail.

  2. What common variations exist in length/content of residency programs for this career?
    All Medicine/Pediatrics programs are four years in length. They vary with respect to intervals at which residents switch back and forth between medicine and pediatrics, though most have a four month block (this can vary from 3-6 months, however). Because you are meeting requirements to sit for boards in BOTH specialties, you have a limited time to do so in four years. This makes the variability amongst programs less than in categorical programs. The amount of elective time is largely truncated in all programs because of the time-crunch, but there are some institutions with a more creative approach to classifying "elective" time that can allow you latitude in international travel or other endeavors.

  3. What common variations exist in this career after training?
    There are SEVERAL. Roughly half of residents graduating in the past few years have entered primary care--in medicine/pediatrics, family practice, internal medicine, or pediatrics clinics. Several graduates (~33%) have subspecialized in one area or the other (pediatrics or adult medicine) and some enter new fellowships which train in their given subspecialty in BOTH fields. Some areas particularly akin to this unique training include global health, longitudinal care of patients with pediatric illnesses (e.g., adult congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis, IBD, rheumatologic diseases), and work in health policy. Other possible areas for your career include hospitalist medicine in the community and teaching/academic medicine. Contrary to what many believe, most med/peds trained doctors still care for both adults and children -- and those who do not, continue to value the training they received!

  4. What is a typical work day for someone in this field?
    One of the exciting aspects of Med Peds is that there is no such thing as a typical workday. As mentioned above, the opportunities to carve out your own career path are practically limitless.

  5. What is the culture of this career?
    Med Peds attracts very diverse, independent, adaptable, and bright young doctors. There is a stereotypical intellectuality inherent in the world of Medicine and playfulness inherent in the world of Pediatrics – Med Peds providers tend to embrace both of these worlds. In actuality, both Medicine and Pediatrics cultures vary from institution-to-institution and coast-to-coast. You will find that while Med Peds possesses aspects of both categorical medicine and pediatrics cultures, there is also a very unique Med Peds flavor nationwide. This is difficult to appreciate here in the Northwest US, where there is currently a void of Med Peds training programs. Nontheless, there is a growing cadre of Med Peds fellows and attendings here at UCSF, and ample opportunity to explore this culture via away electives at other institutions.

  6. How compatible is this career with raising a family? How is this different for men and women?
    No matter what career you choose, this is always a consideration to keep in mind. Med Peds training offers a broad skill set that can help people to define their own unique career paths – some of which may be more demanding than others. Potential career options include hospital vs clinic-based, primary vs subspecialty care, academic vs private practice. All of these options bring unique rewards and challenges – and some may indeed provide more time for being home with the family. Of note, UCSF is a largely family-friendly institution and many people have carved out careers in special ways to suit their home needs.

  7. What are the most important qualities or character traits for a person in this field?
    Adaptability, independence. There are many times when you feel 'out of the loop' with respect to your categorical colleagues, and need to fall back on some internal strength to get through residency and know all will equalize on the other end of training.

  8. How competitive are the residency programs in this field?
    In general, students who desire a career in Med Peds are able to match in a residency training program. It is important to note, however, that the most “coveted” programs nationally can be quite competitive, particularly in light of the small number of residents accepted to each program.

  9. How competitive is the job market after residency?
    Given the breadth of the possibilities for your career, job opportunities are plentiful.

  10. What programs have been popular among UCSF applicants, or how should applicants go about considering programs?
    Programs are really clustered on the East Coast and in the Mid-West. Well-known and highly thought of programs (in both categorical and med/peds) include the two Harvard programs (MGH, BWH), Hopkins, UNC-CH, Penn, Duke, Michigan, Yale, Brown, Baylor and UCLA. Lesser-known from a categorical perspective, but highly thought of from a med/peds perspective include: Rochester, Baystate, Case-Western, U Chicago and UCSD.

  11. What resources (eg, websites, books, professional groups) would you recommend for students interested in learning more about this field?

  12. How important are each of the following for admission to a competitive program?


    Very Important

    Somewhat Important

    Not Important


    volunteer work










    Honors in third year