Pediatric residency is a rewarding and fascinating dive into the world of children’s health and care. Pediatrics focuses on the health of children from birth until young adulthood, and it encompasses a wide variety of subspecialties and career tracks. Pediatrics is one of the specialties with the highest match rates overall, including with international medical graduates, but it still requires a strong pediatrics personal statement and being prepared for pediatric residency interview questions to get matched. In this blog, we’ll look at what a pediatrics residency is, match rates, how to get matched and what subspecialty options there are within pediatrics!

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8 min read

List of Pediatric Residencies in US List of Pediatric Residencies in Canada What is Pediatric Residency? Pediatric Residency: Structure Pediatric Residency: Fellowships Pediatric Residency Match Rates Matching to Pediatric Residency Programs How to Match Pediatric Residency Programs FAQs

List of Pediatric Residencies in US

Here’s a list of some of the best pediatric residency programs in the US and most popular choices for residents, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).

  • Children's National Medical Center Program
  • Phoenix Children's Hospital Program
  • Nicklaus Children's Hospital Program
  • University of Alabama Medical Center Program
  • Children's Hospital/Boston Medical Center Program
  • Children's Hospital Los Angeles Program
  • University of Connecticut Program
  • Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Program
  • University of Florida College of Medicine Jacksonville Program
  • Maimonides Medical Center/Infants and Children's Hospital of Brooklyn Program

List of Pediatric Residencies in Canada

Here are the top pediatric residencies in Canada.

  • University of Toronto
  • University of British Columbia
  • Dalhousie University
  • University of Alberta
  • Queen’s University
  • University of Manitoba
  • University of Western Ontario
  • McMaster University

What is Pediatric Residency?

Pediatric residents specialize in the health of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Unlike say, family medicine residency, pediatric residency is focused entirely on youth and children, specifically the physical, emotional, mental and social health of their patients. The specialty is concerned with health promotion and management of health problems that affect children, from neonates to young adults.

Pediatric residents need to be effective communicators with very strong interpersonal skills. They need to be able to work with a variety of different caregivers and healthcare professionals, as well as parents, teachers, social service workers and more. It is a diverse and fascinating field of medicine, with many different career tracks, subspecialties and environments available to work in.

Pediatric residency is one of the less competitive residencies out there, and it’s also consistently one of the more IMG friendly residency programs, too. Pediatric residency is an appealing option for many medical school graduates. Pediatrics is also one of the residency programs that accept old graduates, whereas other programs, such as neurosurgery residency, might prefer recent med school grads.

As far as how long residency is, pediatrics residency is one of the shortest and most direct. Typically, pediatric residencies are 3-4 years, but offer many opportunities for subspecialty training. Med school graduates can also enter into a categorical pediatrics residency right away, instead of pursuing a transitional year residency first.

Pediatric Residency: Structure

Pediatric residency programs can range in size, location and type. For instance, pediatrics residencies might have only a handful of residents in one cycle, or they may have upwards of 50.

Similarly, pediatrics residency programs can be either affiliated with a university medical school or independent community-based programs. Pediatric residencies may also be located within different types of children’s hospitals. For example, some children’s hospitals are completely dedicated to the health of children, while others are a separate wing within an adult hospital. Still other pediatrics programs are limited to a pediatrics floor within an adult hospital. The learning environment, training schedule and resources available will differ between a dedicated children’s hospital and a peds floor in an otherwise adult health institution. Depending on where you envision yourself as a practicing pediatrician, it’s worth considering what type of program you want to apply to come the match.

Pediatric Residency Training in the US

Pediatric residency training is usually 3 years in the US. In your second and third years of your residency, you will be able to pursue further training in a chosen subspecialty. The requirements for training as set out by the ACGME will depend on your subspecialty, but the first year of your pediatric residency will involve a broad spectrum of experiences in pediatrics.

Once you’ve finished your residency, you may choose to pursue a pediatric fellowship or other subspecialty training in pediatrics. Otherwise, you’ll be getting ready to take the USMLE step 3 and get licensed. Pediatricians can also become board certified through the American Board of Pediatrics and take the General Pediatrics Certifying Exam. To take this exam, you’ll need to have completed 3 years of pediatrics residency and have your medical license.

Pediatric Residency in Canada

Pediatric residency programs in Canada are typically 4 years long and are based in the medical schools in Canada. There is also opportunity for senior residents to become a chief resident in their final year of training. Although they are university-affiliated programs, pediatric residencies in Canada usually include a variety of training in university hospital settings, community hospitals and clinics. Pediatrics residency training in Canada is usually a blend of urban and rural residency experience by default.

Want to see the most and least competitive residencies?

Pediatric Residency: Fellowships

Pediatrics residency can entail a wide variety of subspecialties and possible career tracks. Pediatrics includes a huge diversity of areas of study and practice. If you’re interested in a medical fellowship or pediatrics subspecialty, here are some of the options available to you:

  • Adolescent medicine
  • Immunology
  • Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics
  • Child and adolescent psychiatry
  • Neonatology
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Pediatric endocrinology
  • Pediatric emergency medicine
  • Pediatric urology
  • Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Pediatric otolaryngology
  • Medical Biochemical Genetics
  • Pediatric Hematology Oncology
  • Pediatric gastroenterology
  • Pediatric Rheumatology
  • Pediatric Anesthesiology
  • Pediatric pathology
  • Pediatric Pulmonology
  • Pediatric neurology
  • Military pediatrics
  • Pediatric cardiology
  • Pediatric critical care medicine
  • Pediatric infectious disease
  • Pediatric nephrology
  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Medical genetics

Pediatric Residency Match Rates

Based on the latest match data from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), pediatrics continues to be a popular choice for medical school grads, and enjoy a high match rate among MDs, DOs and IMGs.

MD Match Rate

DO Match Rate

IMG Match Rate

Pediatrics Subspecialty Match Data

Matching to Pediatric Residency Programs

To apply to pediatrics residency programs in the US, you’ll create an ERAS application and register for the NRMP Main Match. For Canadian applicants, you’ll submit an application through the CaRMS match service.

CaRMS applicants should note that if you plan to pursue a pediatric subspecialty, you’ll first enter the main match through CaRMS and being training in a pediatric residency program. From there, you’ll be able to register for the CaRMS Pediatric Subspecialty Match, provided you meet all the eligibility criteria. Eligibility criteria vary from province to province, so check where your target programs are located so you can check that you meet the provincial requirements in order to match.

Similarly, applicants in the US match can register for the Medicine and Pediatrics Specialty Match once they’ve completed their first year or two of a pediatric residency. These pediatric subspecialty fellowship programs are typically 2 or 3 years in length.

How to Match Pediatric Residency Programs

Whereas some medical residency programs value applicants with academic prowess or impressive test scores, pediatric residency programs look for applicants who have the right qualitative attributes to succeed in the specialty. This means excellent communication skills, good interpersonal and problem-solving ability, empathy and the skill to work with people of all ages and many different professionals in the workplace.

When it comes to your ERAS or CaRMS application, it’s important to showcase these skills and demonstrate why you have chosen pediatrics and how you will be a good fit for a program. Even though pediatrics residency may be less competitive than say surgery, it’s still critical to make a strong impression and stand out from the crowd.

Next, we’ll look at some ways you can prepare your residency application to a pediatrics program and how you can maximize the impact of your application.

#1 Write a stellar personal statement

As with any residency application, start with a well-written residency personal statement. Primarily, highlight why you want to pursue a pediatric residency, what drew you to the specialty and any subspecialties that interest you. Be sure to explain what skills and attributes you have that will make a good pediatrician and why you have chosen your target program to start your training in pediatrics.

Use the personal statement to write about your experiences with pediatrics, such as your pediatric clinical rotations during medical school, any away rotations or research you participated in, and any impactful volunteer work you have. Remember that your experiences don’t all need to be directly in pediatrics, but they should convey to the residency program director that you have the ideal skills and attitude of a successful pediatric resident. For example, even if you’ve never done research in a pediatric area, research experience shows that you can work effectively as a team, are a good communicator and are intellectually curious. Volunteer work, even if it didn’t involve working with children directly, shows you are compassionate, engaged and have some skill working with different groups and people.

You can also write a residency letter of intent for your top choice program to explain why you want to join that particular residency and why you will be a good fit!

#2 Secure excellent recommendation letters

Next to your personal statement, your ERAS recommendation letters or CaRMS reference letters are the next best way to demonstrate those ideal qualities and skills pediatric residency is searching for. If your residency CV lists some experience working with a pediatrician, that’s great, but a glowing letter of recommendation from that pediatrician is even better!

To secure the best letters of recommendation, ask clinical supervisors or physicians you’ve worked with at length who can speak honestly and positively of your clinical aptitudes and working ability. Research supervisors are also an option, but for pediatrics residency it’s best to ask referees who have seen you in a clinical setting and have worked with you extensively.

#3 Earn top marks in your clinical evaluations

Your clinical ability will be a major determining factor in whether you match to a pediatric residency or not. You should aim to secure top marks in your MSPE and be sure to ace your clinical rotations in med school, especially in pediatrics, of course!

Another evaluation of your clinical ability that will become increasingly important is your USMLE Step 2 CK score. While pediatric residents have generally lower average USMLE Step 1 scores than say, neurosurgery residents, your Step 2 score reflects your clinical ability much more than your academic skill, and is especially important to pediatric residency program directors.

#4 Demonstrate great interpersonal ability

In your pediatric residency interview, you’ll need to prove those interpersonal and communication skills. The residency interview questions you can expect will almost certainly touch on your clinical experience and your time in pediatric rotations. Be ready to provide detailed answers by explaining what specific actions you took in a given situation and what the results of your actions were. It’s not enough to say you are a good communicator or that you work well with young patients. Give an example of a time you worked successfully with a young patient, or eased a patient’s parents’ fears.

#5 Be selective in where you apply

Although there may be many pediatric residency positions out there, don’t apply to all of them blindly. If you’re not sure how many residency programs to apply to, start researching. Filter the potential programs by location and type, keeping in mind what you want out of a residency program. Dig a little deeper once you have a good list going. Are there opportunities for subspecialty or fellowship training? How competitive are they? What is the program culture like? Does it include rotations in the subspecialties you’re interested in?

Try to pare your list down to 20-30 residency programs on your rank order list that fit you the best and offer the opportunities you’re looking for.


1. What is pediatric residency?

Pediatric residency involves post-graduate medical training in the care and management of patients ranging in age from neonates, infants, children and adolescents and even young adults. Pediatrics is focused on the physical, mental, emotional and social health of these age groups, as well as preventive care and overall health management.

2. Is pediatric residency competitive?

Pediatric residency is one of the least competitive residencies out there. It has consistently high match rates among MDs, DOs and even IMGs, making it a fairly IMG-friendly specialty overall.

3. How long is pediatric residency?

Pediatric residency is around 3-4 years long in the US, and usually 4 years long in Canada. It is one of the shortest residency programs, even with subspecialty training included. 

4. How do I match to a pediatric residency?

To match to pediatric residency, you’ll need a good residency application, despite the specialty being one of the less competitive ones. Your application should demonstrate that you have superior communication and interpersonal skills and are well-suited to pediatric medicine. In particular, you’ll need a strong personal statement, good letters of reference, a solid MSPE and USMLE Step 2 CK score, and a good showing in your interview.

5. What are the pediatric subspecialties?

Pediatric subspecialties are numerous and varied. You can choose a subspecialty in pediatrics based on patient age and demographics—for instance a subspecialty in neonatal care—or you can choose to specialize in a specific area of medicine with a focus in pediatrics, such as pediatric cardiology.

6. Is pediatrics competitive in Canada?

Pediatrics residency programs in Canada are quite a bit more competitive in Canada than in the US. This is because there are overall fewer pediatrics programs in Canada and fewer open positions, while the specialty remains a relatively popular choice for Canadian medical graduates.

7. What do pediatric residents make?

Pediatric residents in the US make between $50,000-$70,000 USD. In Canada, pediatric residents can expect to make a similar salary as their US counterparts. 

8. Should I do a pediatric residency?

If you’re still deciding on your medical specialty, pediatrics is certainly a good choice that offers great variety in subspecialty training, flexibility and a better than average work-life balance. Pediatrics, despite the common misconceptions, is not an easy path through medicine, though, and it has its own challenges.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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