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My son is a senior in HS and he wants to become a pediatrician as a career goal.  That would be great if he can do it and I support him all the way.  But frankly I have serious doubt if he can do it.  I just don't think he has the smarts.  I'm not just being hard on him; just realistic.  He tries very hard in HS but the grades and tests don't reflect his effort.  As an example, he already took Calculus and currently taking AP Calculus, but his college assessment test shows his math level should be intermediate Algebra.  So my question is this:

What if he pursuit the pediatrician path but does not make the cut?  What is a relevant backup plan?  Does he become a medical lab technician or work in a hospital lab or something?

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Pharmacy, dentistry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, lab tech, doctorate in biology/biochem/physiology/etc

I'm not really sure what you mean by this.  In the US, you have to go to college and then apply to get into medical school.  If you make it through medical school, you're a doctor.  Then you could do residency to go into pediatrics.

College and medical school are not generally not related (although there are a few programs of joint admission to college and medical school).  In college, medical school will want to make sure you have had a few specific classes, but I know people who went to medical school after graduating with degrees in math, engineering, psychology and physics in addition to the more typical biology.  

Primary care
Anything related to health sciences
Professor
Physician's Assistant
Dentist
Pharmacist
Other options will depend on his undergraduate degree.  If all else fails, he can switch career directions later by doing a post bacc in something, but that isn't ideal.
Finance if he's good at math, but he will have to take finance courses.

He could work in a hospital lab, but I don't think he'll make much money doing that.  I would recommend becoming a professor and doing research for a university.

hpmax said:   I'm not really sure what you mean by this.  In the US, you have to go to college and then apply to get into medical school.  If you make it through medical school, you're a doctor.  Then you could do residency to go into pediatrics.

College and medical school are not generally not related (although there are a few programs of joint admission to college and medical school).  In college, medical school will want to make sure you have had a few specific classes, but I know people who went to medical school after graduating with degrees in math, engineering, psychology and physics in addition to the more typical biology.  

  I'm thinking it will be a struggle for him to get his B.S. in Bio-Engineering and with a low GPA his opportunity to get into pediatric, pharmacy, dentistry, optometry, etc. are gone.  So I guess with a B.S. in Bio-Engineering (if that) what can he do?

Maybe he will grow into it. I'm sure not every does well in high school but goes on to do well in college and grad school

You don't have to be smart to do well in bio sciences, you just have to work hard and be halfway decent at memorizing.

Outside of comp sci or a few engineering majors, IQ/natural intelligence isn't required to do well in the world.

That being said, undergrad bio/chem majors won't ever get a job doing anything making >40k/yr without going to professional school.  There's just way too many of them.  Encourage him to look at minoring in biz or double majoring in finance or something to make the degree more flexible if a undergrad in bio is really all he is going to be left with.

PS - Are you Asian?

I am a pediatric nurse. I suggest that he enroll in an associate (or better, bachelor's) degree in nursing. In order to meet the requirements for medical school, he may need to take extra hard sciences. The upside is frankly as a male Peds nurse he can get a job anywhere he wants.

I'm surprised this hasn't been on the radar.

catanpirate said:   I am a pediatric nurse. I suggest that he enroll in an associate (or better, bachelor's) degree in nursing. In order to meet the requirements for medical school, he may need to take extra hard sciences. The upside is frankly as a male Peds nurse he can get a job anywhere he wants.

I'm surprised this hasn't been on the radar.

  Op, if you have trouble convincing your son to go into nursing, tell him that college nursing classes are 95% female.

Beyond basic algebra and geometry, math is not a prerequisite for medical school. How are his sciences - chemistry, physics, biology? Reading comprehension?
What are his strengths? Interests? Find that and structure his major around it because he will need an excellent GPA.

Commercial plumbing.....

If he really wants to be the primary care health provider for kids, he should consider being a nurse practitioner or physicians assistant. They work side by side with physicians, especially in primary care. Not as hard to get into, fewer years and less expensive training. These are essentially masters degree level, but programs are all over the place in terms of what the qualifications to apply are. Even better, this does not need to be a backup plan.

People who can't do, teach.

I really have an excellent pediatrician but he doesn't strike me as overly intelligent. Its more his personality, care and attention to my kid that's important. Other than that he is pretty much just following standard guidelines for vaccinations, development etc. If something was off he refers out to specialists for evaluations. Not to knock doctors but pediatrician is probably one of the softer specialties.

catanpirate said:   I am a pediatric nurse. I suggest that he enroll in an associate (or better, bachelor's) degree in nursing. In order to meet the requirements for medical school, he may need to take extra hard sciences. The upside is frankly as a male Peds nurse he can get a job anywhere he wants.

I'm surprised this hasn't been on the radar.

  
That was my thought too.
A lot of RNs have W2s in the $70-100k range, and start their careers several years sooner than the physicians.
Besides that, he can have a ton of fun screwing his way through nursing school.

He will have plenty of opportunities to drop the ball before he graduates. I'd get him to focus on a degree that prepares him for medical school, but also has decent job prospects (Biology, Cellular Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering). If he can make it through organic chemistry, he can probably make it through medical school.

The best thing you can do now is educate him. I know that's probably challenging for a 17-18 year old, but try to get him to understand how difficult it is to get into medical school. I knew someone who had a 3.9 GPA in Biology, got a 26 on the MCAT, and couldn't get into ANY medical school.

I wish all the doctors, as you assumed, are smart. A handful of doctors that I have to deal with over the last 10 years are not quite so. To be a good doctor you need hard work and grit. if he works hard, he will succeed. Smartness comes hard work. He will be fine. If he thinks he can pull it, he should be. Encourage him to reach his goal and he will move forward.
Is there a convincing reason to go with biomedical engineering in the BS? He could probably sail through better with BS in Biology/Genetics/Chemistry area. Once you get good grades in BS, med school admission will be a lot easier ballgame.

backup plan: veterinarian

He's only in high-school... There are plenty of kids who start off as pre-med and quit. I wouldn't get too worried.

That being said, i much rather my kid start off with high ambitions rather than aiming low. A few pros/cons

Pro: It will be easier to get into med school if he's already focued and aiming his resume/background towards med school.
He'll try hard to keep his grades up

Cons: he might end up switching majors if he doesn't like it. If he can't get into med school, he might have a non-practical degree or might have to do a field he doesn't want to do.

Bottom line- your kid is 17/18, he has a LONG way to go to even consider being a DR.

jd2010 said:   You don't have to be smart to do well in bio sciences, you just have to work hard and be halfway decent at memorizing.
We refer to those as technicians or RAs.

DENTIST. 

Sales.

electrician

Gee! Thanks Dad for believing in me!

Perhaps your son has some ideas about what his major should be and whether there are any other fields he'd like to try classes in? Or maybe he intends to be a nurse first, or maybe any of a dozen other ideas.

Try to find some chances for him to talk to people familiar with the field if you actually want him to get guidance. If you're looking to just make the choice... good luck with that.

CrAsian said:   backup plan: veterinarian
  Harder to get accepted into Veterinary school than most med schools.

I get a kick out of some of the alternative career choices, like being a research professor (in the sciences) or a veterinarian. If he can't make it into med school then being successful at either of those is extremely unlikely.

Coroner? Or if that's too hard, mortician.

Would anyone consider the Myers Briggs test to provide insight and or guidance, with a 17yr old, career wise.

Q. What do you call someone who flunked out of Medical school?
A. "Dentist"

Q. What do you call someone who flunked out of Dental school?
A. "Veterinarian"

green to the OP for not assuming his kid some special snowflake.  

at some point, we as parents have to come to terms with the cold reality that not all of us can spawn the next Einstein.

swandown said:   Q. What do you call someone who flunked out of Medical school?
A. "Dentist"

Q. What do you call someone who flunked out of Dental school?
A. "Veterinarian"
 

I think you have the order wrong.  I know a few medical doctors who couldn't get into vet school, so they are now treating people like you and me

If he makes it into a decent college
and gets good grades
and a good MCAT score
and gets into a decent medical school
and gets passing grades
then he can probably become a pediatrician.

Just be glad he isn't interested in derm, opthamology, rads etc...

JamesPolk said:   He will have plenty of opportunities to drop the ball before he graduates. I'd get him to focus on a degree that prepares him for medical school, but also has decent job prospects (Biology, Cellular Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering). If he can make it through organic chemistry, he can probably make it through medical school.

The best thing you can do now is educate him. I know that's probably challenging for a 17-18 year old, but try to get him to understand how difficult it is to get into medical school. I knew someone who had a 3.9 GPA in Biology, got a 26 on the MCAT, and couldn't get into ANY medical school.

With a score of 26 in MCAT (out of 45) that person shouldn't be in medical school. Anything below 30 is very unlikely to get someone admitted into a program. 

swandown said:   Q. What do you call someone who flunked out of Medical school?
A. "Dentist"

 

  
You're just an anti-dentite

I once knew a medical student who couldn't handle the workload and stress in medical school so he dropped out of that and did dentistry. Well, a short time into that program, he dropped out of that also and finally did pharmacy.

I would suggest heading towards the RN route as I think that has the perks of a stable job and growth into an NP/CRNA. I would be careful about PA school as the admission numbers are skyrocketing and in many cases are becoming harder to get into than DO schools. 

OneBread said:     I'm thinking it will be a struggle for him to get his B.S. in Bio-Engineering and with a low GPA his opportunity to get into pediatric, pharmacy, dentistry, optometry, etc. are gone.  So I guess with a B.S. in Bio-Engineering (if that) what can he do?
1.  You don't need any specific major to get into medical school.  You can major in anything as long as you take the pre-med required courses (math, bio, chem, etc.) and then take the MCAT.

2.  With a BS in Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering you can get a great job right out of college working either as an engineer or in technical sales for any of the companies in the industry, or go on to pursue a masters/PhD.  Having done this myself, if he turns out to be truly interested in BME design/development work I'd recommend a BS in Mechanical or Electrical Engineering, and either throw in some biomedical coursework or plan on doing a masters right away or after a few years on the job.

But frankly I have serious doubt if he can do it. I just don't think he has the smarts. I'm not just being hard on him; just realistic.

I don't know your kid, but I have some concerns about just the thought process. I don't think very many people skipped through medical school and said it was easy. I am sure they had to work very hard at it. For me, having a plan B is bad, since it distracts from Plan A. Being realistic is the most commonly traveled path to mediocrity. That said, he does have to have a solid understanding of what he says when he says "I want to be a pediatrician. He should spend some time in a hospital or with a legit pediatrician if you can arrange something. WHY does he want to be a doctor?

There was a time that I wanted to be a neurosurgeon just like Ben Carson. Then I met him and asked how many years of studying it took and he said 13 years after high school, so I said F that and ultimately realized I just wanted to be rich and the whole surgeon thing was just a high paying job.

He probably needs to just listen to some Eric Thomas speeches and he'll be ok

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He could become a priest. That way he'd more than likely still be working closely with children. <Sorry, couldn't resist> 



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