"Pediatrics is the specialty of medicine that focuses on the comprehensive care of children – beginning from birth and continuing through the adolescent years. …In addition to the primary care and preventive medicine of general pediatrics, pediatricians can choose to focus on acute problems requiring immediate treatment (critical care, neonatology, emergency medicine) or a wide range of technical procedures (cardiology, pulmonology, gastroenterology). …It is important to note that caring for kids is not just about treating their physical and medical problems. Every good pediatrician also addresses the mental and emotional health of his or her patients, which is equally as important as organic disease."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 349.
M1 and M2 Students
What advice would you offer first- and second-year students who are interested in pursuing your specialty?
Do their best in classes. Pursue at least one extracurricular activity related to children to see if it’s a good fit, especially if you have not worked with kids before. Lots of students participate in Chicago Youth Program tutoring or clinic or the Patient Perspectives program at Lurie Children’s. If more clinical exposure is desired, they may contact Dr. Stamos, Dr. Greenberg or Dr. Trainor and we can help set that up for them.
How important is a research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?
It isn’t necessary. However, if the student is interested, it is a good experience to have, especially if he/she has not done any prior to med school.
M3 and M4 Students
What M4 electives would you recommend to a student who is interested in pursuing your specialty?
An elective in pediatrics before September (so you can get to know a pediatric faculty member in order to get a letter of recommendation before Sept. 1) and the pediatric subinternship at some point during the year if there is space available.
Does your specialty recommend doing away rotations?
It is not necessary.
If your specialty recommends doing away rotations, how many "aways" do you recommend?
If away rotations are necessary, when should they be completed?
Which month do you recommend taking off to interview?
November, December or January are fine, but they should remember that many programs do not interview the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. Even when they do, it is not ideal to interview during these weeks since there will be a “skeleton crew” of residents during this period. Students with more modest academic records (mostly pass grades) are likely to get interviews later in the cycle, and we recommend they leave January open for interviews. There is no advantage to interviewing in November versus January. If you are applying in multiple disparate geographic areas or are couples matching, you will need to leave yourself more time to interview.
Does your specialty recommend that all letters of recommendation be written by members of your specialty?
Not necessarily. At least two letters should be from faculty members of the Department of Pediatrics.
If letters can come from other disciplines, do you have a recommendation as to which disciplines are more highly valued?
An MD from internal medicine, family medicine or a PhD or another research mentor would be best. You may also get a letter from a pediatric surgeon or pediatric surgical sub-specialist if you developed an excellent rapport and know them well. Always ask if the faculty member is able to write a “strong” letter of recommendation.
Does the academic rank of the letter writer matter?
Not necessarily; however, it is best that it come from someone with an academic appointment at a medical school. If it is from a clinical instructor or an assistant professor, it is best that they also have another title (e.g., associate director of the residency program or fellowship director, director of the inpatient unit).
Does your specialty require a letter from the chairman?
Not all pediatric residency training programs require a chair letter, but many do. We recommend every student have one. A meeting with the chairman is required sometime in July or early August. Your adviser writes the letter, which is co-signed by the chair.
Pediatrics Specialty Session - Winter / Residency Application Information
During the winter of the M3 year, students should attend specialty sessions sponsored by the Department of Pediatrics to learn more about the specialty and meet attendings and residents in the field.