Paediatric intensive care medicine - sub-specialty

The paediatric intensive care physician resuscitates, stabilises, transfers and treats critically ill and injured children. Access the current syllabus for training in this clinical area, as well as the revised syllabus coming in August/September 2021.

What makes a paediatric intensive care physician (PICP)?

The PICP is a clinician from a paediatric, intensive care or anaesthetic background who resuscitates, stabilises, transfers and treats critically ill and injured children. They identify those children who need intensive care support and are skilled at the procedures and techniques necessary to deliver that support. They are highly skilled at directing, leading and coordinating both medical and surgical resuscitation, and can prioritise and respond to new and urgent clinical situations.

The PICP treats children with a wide range of life-threatening pathologies within emergency, transfer and intensive care settings. They interact with, coordinate, educate and supervise all members of the multi-professional intensive care team, understanding the unique interaction of the intensive care unit with every component of the hospital. They work in difficult and challenging environments within the emergency, transfer and intensive care settings. The PICP also coordinates and delivers appropriate care when a major incident has occured.

PICM specialty recognition within Intensive Care Medicine

Paediatric Intensive Care Medicine (PICM) has been approved by the General Medical Council (GMC) as a specialty of Intensive Care Medicine. The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM) sets the training requirements for adult Intensive Care Medicine (ICM). Trainees engaged in a Single or Dual CCT in ICM can undertake specialty accreditation in PICM via the Grid Training Programme.

Single ICM CCT trainees incorporate the PICM training into the exiting programme, which requires no extension of training time. Trainees undertaking Dual CCTs in ICM and a partner specialty (e.g. Anaesthesia) may also wish to apply for the PICM Specialty Programme. Undertaking Dual CCTs and specialty recognition, however, will result in a significantly prolonged period of training with an additional 24 months required.

The full details of how PICM can be incorporated into the ICM training programme can be found within the FICM’s ICM CCT curriculum in the downloads section below (see page 21).

RCPCH Progress curriculum and syllabi for level 3 training

Since August 2018, trainees in this sub-specialty use the RCPCH Progress level 3 generic syllabus alongside the RCPCH Progress paediatric intensive care medicine sub-specialty syllabus. Download both documents below

In addition to the generic learning outcomes for level 3, PICM trainees must fulfil the following sub-specialty learning outcomes:

  • Recognises, assesses and manages the full range of both medical and surgical paediatric conditions requiring intensive care support, including the management of safeguarding issues within this environment.
  • Assumes the role of intensive care team leader and liaises with hospital and community specialist teams, effectively managing and coordinating patient flow, staffing, safety and quality in the context of a busy paediatric intensive care unit (PICU).
  • Resuscitates, stabilises, and transfers critically ill children, performing the high-level clinical and technical skills and procedures necessary to carry this out in the paediatric intensive care, emergency and transport environments.
  • Performs high-level technical skills and procedures utilising the appropriate medications necessary for managing critically ill children, and troubleshoots appropriately.
  • Supports and communicates with families when their child is extremely unwell, dying or has died.

Revised syllabus coming in August/September 2021

We spoke with clinicians working in this sub-specialty, and agreed some enhancements to the sub-specialty syllabus. The revised version is approved by the General Medical Council (GMC) for use as of August/September 2021. Download the revised syllabus below

A summary of the changes:

  • Learning Outcome (LO) 1 has been amended where the term ‘including paediatric emergencies requiring’ has been added. Key Capability (KC) has been amended by adding the terms ‘respiratory failure’ and ‘the septic or shocked patient, those presenting with reduced level of consciousness, those with major trauma'.
  • Illustrations have also been grouped together, and new KC added to LO 2. 
  • A new KC has also been added to LO 4 and Illustration 15 has been amended; ‘demonstrated by Initial Assessment of Competence Certificate (Royal College of Anaesthetists)’.
  • LO 5 has been replaced with a new LO, an existing KC has been amended and five new KCs have now been added.
  • A new Learning Outcome for LO 6 and KCs have also been added.
  • The Assessment Grid has been updated to reflect changes to the KCs.

You can find out more about the updates to this and other sub-specialty syllabi. If you have any questions contact us on qualityandstandards@rcpch.ac.uk.