You want to be a pediatrician?

I am very excited to introduce a guest blogger.  Dr. Calie Fulmer is a pediatric resident at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO.  She will be working in the Plaza office during the month of August.  Dr. Fulmer wrote the following post to explain what it takes to become a pediatric physician, and to introduce herself to our patient families.  Enjoy!

Hello! My name is Dr. Calie and I am currently a second year pediatric resident at Children’s Mercy Hospital.  I am excited to announce that I will be spending the next month with Pediatric Associates on the Plaza.

You may be asking, what exactly is a pediatric resident, and what does it take to become a pediatrician?  The journey to becoming a pediatrician starts with a bachelor’s degree in any field of your choice along with successful completion of a variety of core science courses in physics, chemistry, biology, and biochemistry.  After college, you must attend an accredited medical school.  Medical school is typically a four-year program that covers all facets of medicine broadly (such as internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, and family practice).  Medical students complete two years of lecture-style classes and two years of clinical rotations, working with licensed physicians and physicians-in-training (also called residents).

The first two parts of the three-part United States Medical Licensing Examination, the USMLE, take place during medical school.  The first exam is a written exam and takes place after completion of the second year of medical school.  The second exam is a combined written and practical exam (role play with actors for patients) that takes place during the fourth year of medical school.

After successful completion of medical school and passing the first and second part of the USMLE, you graduate with a medical degree (M.D.).  Now, you may apply for a position in a residency program in your desired field.  This graduate training period is referred to as "residency" due to the tradition of physicians-in-training working such long hours they become "residents" of their training hospital.  During this time, physicians exclusively study one medical field in order to develop special expertise.  Residency programs vary in length of time, from 3 years (such as a pediatrics residency) to 6 years (some general surgery residencies).

The first year of a pediatric residency is deemed the “intern year” where the physician spends a majority of his or her time as the first line for patient care. During the first year, the physician also completes the third, and final, part of the USMLE.  After completing an additional 2 years of training, the physician takes a final exam, the pediatric board exam.  A passing score on this exam allows you to become a Board Certified pediatrician.

As for my journey, I started at Truman State University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Exercise Science.  I then returned home and graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in May of 2009.  I then moved to Kansas City in June of 2009 with my fiancé to be a pediatric resident at Children’s Mercy Hospital.  Upon graduation from Children’s Mercy, I am hoping to become a general pediatrician and consequently am very excited to be working with you and your families at Pediatric Associates this month! Thank you!