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. Find out about this sub-specialty and its curriculum.

What makes a paediatric emergency medicine (PEM) doctor?

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.

RCPCH Progress curriculum

As of 1 August 2018, sub-specialty trainees use the RCPCH Progress Level 3 Generic syllabus alongside the RCPCH Progress Paediatric Emergency Medicine Syllabus. Both can be downloaded below.

Sub-specialty learning outcomes

In addition to the generic learning outcomes for level three, paediatric emergency medicine trainees must fulfil the following requirements.

  • Recognises, assesses and manages the full range of paediatric emergency conditions.
  • Assumes the role of paediatric emergency team leader and takes responsibility for this domain of service.
  • Performs high-level clinical and technical skills and procedures in the paediatric emergency setting.
  • Liaises effectively with hospital and community specialist paediatric emergency medicine (PEM) teams.
  • Effectively manages and coordinates patient flow, staffing, safety and quality in a PED.
  • Demonstrates the ability to make pragmatic and rapid decisions across a broad range of paediatric emergencies.

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