As a highly specialized area of pediatrics, neonatologists require very intense training and education. It can take up to fourteen years after beginning college studies before one is able topractice on his own in this field of specialized medicine.
Neonatologist education begins with earning a Bachelor’s degree. No particular major is required; however, most students elect to study biology, health or pre-medicine. Some courses that could be required include anatomy and physiology, biology and chemistry. Four years of full-time study is required to complete one of these degrees, which can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $28,900 per year. Students can expect to pay another $2,000 over the course of their studies for books. During their senior year, they should plan on taking the Medical College Admissions Test, (MCAT) which is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
Four years of medical school follows after obtaining a Bachelor’s degree. Some classes that are typically required include histology, biochemistry, embryology and pathology. The first two years are largely spent in the classroom, while the last two years involve more laboratory work.
A three-year pediatric residency is required after graduation from medical school. During this time, aspiring neonatologists will spend time in neonatal intensive care units and maternity wards. They will also attend lectures and seminars designed to make them aware of new developments in this medical specialty. During a residency, individuals could be paid around $50,000 per year and receive benefits such as health and dental coverage.
After completing a residency program, neonatologist training continues with a three-year long fellowship program. During this time, an aspiring neonatologist may act as an attending physican under the supervision of a licensed neonatologist. This training will involve a great deal of hands-on experience working with critically ill infants. Trainees may assist with making a diagnosis, administering medications or performing surgeries. Fellows can receive a salary of up to $60,000 annually and may have all or part of their malpractice insurance premiums underwritten by the hospital where they are performing their training.
Licensing and Certification
After completing the required education and training, neonatologists can obtain a license to practice medicine. Each state has its own medical licensing board that administers examinations for aspiring physicians. The cost of obtaining a medical license is roughly $500 to $800. Once a license to practice medicine has been obtained, specialty certification can be obtained from the American Board of Pediatrics. The cost of taking this exam ranges from $2,850 to $3,190.
During the course of their training, neonatologists are likely to see a great deal of changes take place, as new developments in prenatal medicine are constantly being achieved. Remaining flexible and continuing to gain knowledge are both essential for those who want to enter this very lucrative career field.