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October 24, 2001

Other

Question from Quebec, Canada:

I am presently 14 years old, and I am very interested in becoming a pediatric endocrinologist specializing in diabetes. Some close relatives of mine have the disease and that has made me want to be able to help others when I am older. Do you have any tips for me as to how I can get started in any way at this age or anything at all in general that you think might be helpful for me to know?

Answer:

I don’t know if your lovely country of Canada has specific procedures or quotas for sub-specialty physicians. However, first of course, you must get into and succeed in medical school. So you had better keep up those grades in high school and college. Most medical school education follows a completed four-year degree from an undergraduate college. There are other medical school programs in the US and Europe (I don’t know about Canada) that have more accelerated programs (some even take students directly after high school), but they are in medical school for 6 six years (rather than four years of undergraduate plus four years of medical school).

In the US, medical education is expensive! Make good grades and qualify for loans and grants! Talk with your high school guidance office. Also, talk with your own diabetes team, as they may be willing to write letters recommending you.

Other things that “look good” to college admissions folks is to demonstrate a genuine interest — volunteer at the free health clinic or local diabetes camp; volunteer or get a summer job at your children’s hospital. Any job lending support is important. No one will expect you to take care of sick folks. So filing, work with social services, be a camp counselor (have fun and be paid!) — only your imagination is the limit.

DS