Paediatric emergency medicine - sub-specialty

This is a sub-specialty of both paediatrics and emergency medicine and is concerned with providing highly specialised acute health care to children of all ages.

Read about this clinical area and download the syllabi for both sub-specialty and for generic specialty training. We also provide the RCPCH and RCEM PEM handbook (2021).

Introduction to this sub-specialty

A paediatric emergency physician is a doctor who specialises in the initial management of children presenting with a wide range of undifferentiated conditions. They need to make pragmatic and rapid decisions using a wide breadth of knowledge across a vast range of paediatric presentations.

They are competent dealing with minor and major trauma and illness. They need to be adaptable in order to be able to switch immediately from managing minor conditions to leading the resuscitation of children.

Paediatric emergency physicians must also acquire a wide range of non-clinical skills and abilities, internally and externally. These may revolve around process management in the emergency department, the hospital as a whole, or the wider community and interfaces of care. They must also learn to take care of themselves and the emergency team, developing skills to counteract the high-pressure nature of the work through communication, debriefing, and resilience training.

They gain their skills by working in busy paediatric emergency departments (PEDs), paediatric intensive care units (PICUs), and alongside colleagues from other specialties including emergency medicine, paediatrics, general paediatric surgery and other surgical specialties, mastering both the diagnostic challenge and the practical skills required to treat this diverse population. As consultants, paediatric emergency physicians may work in designated PEDs or alongside adult colleagues, taking on the care of children in mixed EDs.

Training in this sub-specialty

In summer 2023, we launched RCPCH Progress+, our updated, two-level paediatric training programme in the UK.

Paediatricians start in core training, and then move on to specialty training - when some choose to apply to train in a paediatric sub-specialty, such as paediatric emergency medicine (PEM).

The Progress+ curriculum provides a framework for paediatric training, and outlines the Learning Outcomes and Key Capabilities required at each stage before attaining the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT).

The RCPCH Progress+ syllabi support the curriculum with further guidance on how the Learning Outcomes can be achieved and demonstrated, with sub-specialty Learning Outcomes. You can download the Progress+ syllabi for this sub-specialty and for specialty training (generic) below. 

Trainees due to CCT by September 2024 continue to use the Progress curriculum and syllabi; you can also download the the Progress syllabi below.