I was wondering if you could give me information on how to get into the field of neonatalogy. I am currently a senior in high school and would like to go into the pediatrics/neonatalogy field in college. Could you give me information on what areas to go into or what colleges to go to?
You have a long row to hoe, four years of college, four years of medical school, three years of pediatric residency and at least two years of neonatology fellowship. Nevertheless its no bad idea to know exactly where you want to go; but don't be surprised if something else appeals more along the road. I assume that you are already set for college where your goals must include getting the best possible grades in those courses required for entry into medical school. There will be a pre-med advisor who can tell you what these are. A good grade point average is something selection committees want because they can be defended to the public; but they are looking for other qualities, i.e., interests and skills in fields other than natural sciences: are you musical, a mountain climber or did you major in history and do the required pre-med courses as a sideline? This is because some physicians burn out if they don't have other interests to help them relax. It is important too to have had some experience in working with people, especially the poor or the handicapped. With two years in the Peace Corps and really good grades you'd be a shoo-in. The interview for medical school is very important so learn to be articulate, you are sure to be asked, "why neonatology" and probably too about important general issues in medicine e.g. how to contain costs, what do you feel about HMO's, a national Health service, etc.
Don't be upset if you don't get in the first time around; get a job working in a lab or somewhere relevant and remember that only about half the class get in the first time and quite a few will have had other careers first. Engineers are quite common.
The biggest hurdle is going to be getting in to medical school. If you feel you can afford it then a school like Harvard or Hopkins or Stanford is fine; but they rather tend to steer you toward the academic. Otherwise the best chance is in your own state or with a school with which your state has a formal link. Getting in to a good Pediatric Department will be more important; but at this stage its too early to give you a list as quality depends a good deal on the Chairman. When you get into the home stretch and are ready for a fellowship in neonatology then it is important to try for the best available and again the 'best' for you will not only be based on academic record; but on where you want to settle down, etc.
I have assumed that you want to get into neonatology as a physician; but of course you can also get in as a nurse, a child health associate or a medical social worker.
Original posting 3 Nov 96
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