Interested in paediatrics? Guidance for medical students

If you are currently in medical school and considering a career in paediatrics we hope that this information will be useful to help build your portfolio and give you advice on how to become a paediatrician.
Last modified
25 September 2018

What can you do to get paediatric experience?

  • Paediatricians are friendly and approachable. Ask if you could shadow them. They can act as a mentor and help you get an understanding of what it is like to train and work as a paediatrician.
  • Medical schools offer special study modules or equivalent in paediatrics. Try to complete these to get some direct experience.
  • Get involved with kids' clubs or groups with children who have disabilities or learning difficulties. You can develop your communication skills and rapport with children and young people.
  • Go to paediatric events so you can meet and network with paediatric doctors. Our own RCPCH Conference offers reduced rates for medical students. You can attend lectures, workshops and sessions with prestigious speakers.
  • We offer prizes for medical students. Why not enter?
  • Read articles about paediatric cases and disorders. The Student British Medical Journal (BMJ) is a great resource, not just for clincial reading but careers guidance too.
  • Not all your experience has to involve children. You can get transferable skills from other settings, such as nursing homes and hospices.

Ultimately paediatrics is looking for individuals who are enthusiastic and passionate about helping and supporting babies, children and young people and their families and carers.

Take whatever opportunities you can to get involved during your time at medical school. It will be hugely beneficial to you and may well make a significant difference to others as well. These activities will help you decide whether you'd like to apply for paediatrics. And, if you do, you may feel more prepared for your application.

Applicants for our specialty are assessed on their awareness of paediatrics and child health - but you won't need specific knowledge or experience. They also need to demonstrate clinical competences commensurate with a Foundation Doctor.

Get involved with your university's paediatric society

Check if your university has a paediatric society and get involved. The societies are a great way to hear about paediatric events, talks and training in your medical school.

They are often involved with schemes that allow students to interact with children in a hospital environment. For example, at Teddy Bear Hospitals, children bring their teddy to a fun environment so they can learn about being in hospital and healthy lifestyles.

If your medical school does not have a paediatric society or a Teddy Bear Hospital, then why not look into starting your own? We are always keen to help support and promote these societies and the events that they run. We're building a UK-wide network of student paediatric societies. If your own society is interested in getting involved or you would like to start a society of your own, please contact us at

Your elective

Consider getting paediatric experience during your elective. Your medical school should be able to help setting up your elective and give you advice.

We are unable to help with elective, nor provide funding support or bursaries for overseas experiences.

Undergraduate curriculum

All doctors will come across children and families in their work. It is essential that new doctors can competently interact with, assess and care for children and young people.

A national undergraduate curriculum for child health has been developed through a two year collaborative consultation involving clinicians, academics, parents and medical students from across the United Kingdom.

This curriculum identifies knowledge, skills and attitudes in child health that we believe should be covered at some stage during the undergraduate medical course.

This document (see downloads below) is intended for use by medical students and all those involved in undergraduate child health teaching, both delivery and design.

The curriculum was officially launched at the winter meeting of the Paediatric Educators Special Interest Group (PEdSIG) on 4 November 2015.

Beyond medical school

After medical school, UK qualified doctors complete a two year Foundation Programme. During their second year of foundation school, doctors can apply for their choice of specialty training, such as paediatrics.

Be prepared! Check our recruitment information, including the shortlisting and interview criteria and the competition ratios for different deaneries - coming soon.

Paediatrics is a competence-based training programme which is generally completed within eight years.

It is a ‘run-through’ specialty training programme. That means the years of training run continuously, as long as the trainee progresses sufficiently. We support trainees' career progression in a number of ways, using a curriculum based around a framework of learning outcomes as opposed to a list of competencies, and incorporating the Generic Professional Capabilities the GMC expect of all doctors in training.