Medical students

If you are currently in medical school and considering a career in paediatrics we hope that the below information will be useful to help build your portfolio and give you information on paediatrics.

You will gain some exposure to paediatrics throughout your degree but there are many ways to get further paediatric experience. 

On this page:

What can you do to get paediatric experience?

  • Paediatricians are friendly and approachable - if you are interested in paediatrics as a career 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 will offer special study modules or equivalent in paediatrics, so if you aredoctor looking in boys ear.web.jpg interested in paediatrics try and complete these to gain some direct paediatric experience.  
  • Get involved with kids' clubs or groups with children who have disabilities or learning difficulties; they will give you a great opportunity to develop your communication skills and rapport with children and young people.
  • Attend paediatric events so you can meet and network with paediatric doctors. The RCPCH Annual Conference offers reduced rates for medical students, so come along and gain an important insight into a career in paediatrics, whilst attending a range of informative lectures, workshops and sessions from prestigious speakers.
  • The RCPCH have a number of prizes open for entries from medical students, why not enter? Winning one of these prizes is great for your CVand could gain you free entry to the RCPCH Annual Conference.
  • Read around the subject; take some time to read articles involving paediatric cases and disorders. The Student British Medical Journal (BMJ) is also a great resource for not only clinical reading but also careers information.
  • Not all of your experience has to involve children, transferrable skills can be gained from other settings, eg working in a nursing home, volunteering at a hospice.

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 opportunities

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.

Any of the above suggestions will help you not only with making your decision about entering paediatric training but ultimately could help with your application for specialist training. It should be noted that for application ST1 level, none of the interview stations are designed to require previous paediatric knowledge or experience. Instead applicants are being assessed on their awareness of issues surrounding paediatrics and child health and whether they are able to demonstrate clinical competences commensurate with a Foundation Doctor.

Paediatric societies

teddy bears with plasters.web.JPGCheck 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.

Additionally paediatric societies are often involved with schemes that allow students to interact with children and young people in a hospital environment, such as Teddy Bear Hospitals, where children bring their teddy’s to a fun environment to learn about being in hospital and healthy lifestyles.

If your Medical School doesn't currently have a paediatric society or a Teddy Bear Hospital then why not look into starting your own? The RCPCH is always keen to help support and promote these societies and the events that they run and is currently working to build 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

If you are keen on specialising in paediatrics, consider getting paediatric experience during your elective. Your medical school should be able to help setting up your elective and give you advice.

The RCPCH is not currently in the position to aid with organisation of electives, nor can the College provide any funding support or bursaries for overseas experiences. 

Become an affiliate member of the RCPCH

The RCPCH offers affiliate membership to all UK medical students. Benefits include:

  • Advice on a career in paediatrics
  • RCPCH publications including clinical guidance and reports on RCPCH research available online
  • Monthly ebulletin
  • Online access to the RCPCH newsletter
  • Access to the members section of the RCPCH website
  • Heavily discounted rate for the Archives of Disease in Childhood
  • A discounted rate for attendance at the RCPCH Annual Conference

And it's free! Download the application form

Attend a careers fairCareers-Fair.jpg

Throughout the year, the RCPCH Recruitment & Careers team attend a number of careers fairs all round the UK. Check our webpages to see where we are going to be next

Medical Student Prizes

The RCPCH offers two prizes to those at Medical School, which are great to add to your portfolio and give the winners the opportunity to attend the RCPCH Annual Conference free of charge. Check the relevant prizes webpages for details:

Undergraduate Curriculum

All doctors will come across children and families in their work and it is essential that newly qualified 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 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. 

Download the curriculum document (PDF, 420KB, 5 pages)

Please get in contact if you have any comments or suggestions:

Beyond medical school

After medical school, UK qualified doctors will complete a two year Foundation Programme. During their second year of foundation school, trainees will apply for their choice of specialty training programmes.

It is never too early to check the recruitment information for entry into paediatrics, so you can be best prepared for what is required during your application. The Paediatric Recruitment page has information on the process, including the shortlisting and interview criteria and competition ratios for deaneries. The information is updated annually for each recruitment round.   

Paediatrics is a competence-based training programme which is generally completed within eight years. Paediatrics is a ‘run-through’ specialty training programme, meaning that the years of training run continuously, providing you progress sufficiently, with training monitored using a series of competency frameworks and a range of assessment methods.   


Contact the careers team for further information or queries

Email: Recruitment and Careers team