University of Southern California

Interested in pediatrics?  The great news is that anything you do during first and second year to get involved at KECK-USC, or in the community, will be helpful for pediatrics.  The most important thing, besides studying hard for your core curriculum, is to find activities that excite you.  You will quickly learn that being a member of every student interest group will not benefit you if you are not actively involved.

Your first year experiences do not even need to be specific to pediatrics.  Activities that involve patient education, peer education or shadowing are all ideally suited to students interested in pediatrics since pediatrics centers around patient education.  As such, participating in education based activities is a great idea.  You will see some of these activities listed below.

Because it is hard to be 100% certain what you want to go into as a first year medical student, it is also totally acceptable to get involved in other shadowing experiences to rule in and rule out other specialties.  For example, if you are deciding between pediatrics and surgery, spend some time in the operating room to decide if that is something that suits you or not.  In fact, there are even programs that combine these two specialties such as Operation Smile, where surgeons correct facial anomalies in children.  Furthermore, the Primary Care Community Medicine Program (PCCMP) works closely with the Pediatrics department to provide interested students preceptor shadowing experiences, service and research projects, and opportunities to speak to a pediatric mentor through the Choosing a Primary Care Career Connect & Select program.


At this time PedSIG does not have a website, but they are still an active group on campus.  If interested in pediatrics, make sure you sign up for their mailing lists early on in first year.  This will give you a heads up about pediatric related speakers and shadowing opportunities.



At KECK-USC there are two great hospitals with exceptional pediatric faculty and residents.  Take some time to see what’s new at LAC+USC and CHLA, especially before a shadowing experience at either location.

In addition, there are many amazing resources to take advantage of in Los Angeles County.  If you are looking for volunteer/shadowing experiences, consider the Violence Intervention Program or CATC clinic both located down the street from the LAC+USC medical center.  The CATC clinic sees patients in the DCFS system and VIP sees patients involved in cases of suspected abuse.  KECK-USC runs a breath mobile for children with asthma and supports the program Operation Smile, as mentioned above.  These are some of the great programs to contact for volunteer/shadowing experiences.  Keep these resources in mind during fourth year, as these community services could lead to potential fourth year electives as well. For more information, go to Keck School Outreach.


This program connects medical students with adolescents in juvenile hall.  Medical students work with these teens to teach them about sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, drugs and alcohol, dating violence and good decision making.  This is a great opportunity for anyone considering a career in pediatrics.  You can get involved by signing up at the beginning of first year for community outreach emails.  They will keep you informed about training and signing up for teaching sessions.  For more information, go to: Keck School Outreach

Bravo Mentoring Program

KECK-USC pairs up with Bravo High School, which is the medical magnet school just behind the Keck campus.  Various projects occur during the year including tutoring programs and the mini-medical school events.  These collaborative events between teens in East LA and Keck students are ideal for students interested in pediatrics.  See below for more information, go to: Keck School Outreach.


No matter what field of medicine you enter, Spanish will be a big help while at KECK-USC and during residency.  Since pediatricians build relationships with patients and families over time, communication is essential.  Start early and practice your Spanish skills whenever you have the opportunity.


Keck offers a variety of scholarships that you may be eligible for.  Many are specific for students interested in primary care, and some are even more specific for students going into pediatrics.  Contact Alicia Rugley for more information.


Learn More…

If you are looking for a good resource to learn about current issues in pediatrics visit the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website.  Often articles put out by the AAP are referenced in clinical clerkships.  This is a good place to explore current issues in pediatrics.

–Overview written by Kelsey Richardson, Class of 2011, Peds