School students

To become a paediatrician you will need to complete a medical degree at a university medical school to become a fully qualified doctor.

There are a number of medical schools in the UK. When choosing a medical school you will need to think carefully about the location and the entry requirements. It takes five to six years to complete a full medical degree.student reading in library.web.JPG

Medical school entry requirements

Work experience

After medical school

Other careers in paediatrics and child health

Entry requirements

Medical schools have varying qualification types and grade requirements for entry. You should check directly with the university for these requirements. At least three A-levels are usually required, including chemistry with another science or maths.

If you do not have A-levels, or do not have the required A-levels to apply directly for medical school, it is possible to apply for foundation courses or pre-medical courses to prepare you for medical school.

For those who have already completed a degree, a number of medical schools offer graduate medical degrees, which are normally four years. Graduate medical degrees have specific entry requirements which should be checked with the university.

What is it like to be a medical student?

To discover more about medical school and their entry criteria visit the following websites: 

Close up of stethoscope.jpgUCAS

Medical Schools Council

NHS Careers

Step into the NHS

Work experience

Entry into medical school is very competitive. It is not just academic achievements that universities look for in applicants. What can you do to gain some experience?

  • Gaining work experience in hospitals directly with children can be difficult. However, contact hospitals, hospices, GP surgeries, etc with plenty of notice and see if they can offer you some opportunities. Even if this is not with children it is all valuable experience on your journey to becoming a doctor.
  • Volunteering in a medical centre gives the opportunity to be involved with non-clinical work but you will be providing a valuable service for patients, families and other health professionals. Contact the centres directly and see if there is anything you can help with.  
  • Try and get involved with children's clubs in your local area, after school or at weekends or volunteer at a summer school. Contact local nurseries and see if you can get some work experience. All of these opportunities although not medical will give you great experience working with children.
  • Look into gaining some first aid skills. Organisations such as St John's Ambulance have programmes for young people.

The following websites may help you explore volunteering opportunities:

Do it - Volunteering made easy

Volunteering England

'Work experience in a hospital is a good way to establish your interest in paediatrics - but it can be hard to come by. Lots of paediatricians spent some time before university volunteering with children's charities or helping on summer camps - I think it helps to know that you enjoy working with children.'

After medical school

  • Once a medical student graduates they are a fully-qualified doctor. All UK qualified doctors will complete two years of generic medical training straight after medical school, which is known as the Foundation Programme.
  • On completion of the Foundation Programme, trainees enter their chosen specialty. Paediatrics is competence based training which is generally completed in eight years. Paediatric Training Pathway(PDF, 162KB, 2 pages)
  • A salary is received from the first year of foundation training. All doctors are on the same salary scale, which can be found at NHS Employers

Other careers in paediatrics and child healthlady doctor with baby.web.JPG

  • Other doctors work with children but are not paediatricians and do not train through the same route as a paediatrician. For example, paediatric surgeons train as surgeons and then specialise to treat children. For more examples of medical specialties working with children visit here.
  • Nurses can specialise to work with children, this can be in hospitals or in the community (eg day care centres or the child's home). The RCPCH are not involved directly in the training of nurses and therefore cannot provide careers advice on this area, but for further information visit the NHS Careers nursing careers site
  • Allied Health Professionals provide valuable support to the paediatric healthcare team in many different roles. For example art, drama and speech therapists can work with children to develop their physical, mental or emotional wellbeing; dietitians and nutritionists can support those with special dietary requirements and physiotherapists can help children and young people with learning disabilities. Many other types of roles are available. The majority of these careers will require formal training. For further examples of allied health professionals and how to train in these areas visit NHS Careers


Contact the careers team for further information or queries

Email: Recruitment and Careers team