What is paediatrics?

Paediatrics is a medical specialty that manages medical conditions affecting babies, children and young people. 

Trainees looking at an xrayNewborn baby being examinedDoctor examing patient








Paediatricians are doctors who look at specific health issues, diseases and disorders related to stages of growth and development. This is an area of medicine where the doctor works closely with the patient and their family. Paediatrics is a diverse, stimulating and hugely rewarding specialty. As a paediatrician you could be working in:

  • General paediatric units seeing a wide range of conditions affecting children
  • Community-based settings managing long-term care of children and young people
  • Highly specialised units working in a wide range of sub-specialties such as neonatal medicine

Paediatrics is a broad-based specialty which allows doctors to be generalists and see children and young people with a wide range of illnesses and disease or to become very specialised in certain areas.  

Training to become a paediatrician

  • The route to becoming a paediatrican starts at a University Medical School. 
  • After successful completion of a medical degree, the two years following medical school will be spent by a newly qualified doctor in the foundation programme. The Foundation Programme is a generic training programme giving trainees the opportunity to experience a number of medical and surgical specialties to bridge the move from medical school to specialty training.
  • A doctor will specialise in their chosen specialty after completion of the foundation programme. Paediatrics is a competence-based training programme which generally takes eight years to complete. It is a run-through programme, meaning that the years of training run continously, dependent on satisfactory progression.

 Paediatric Training Pathway (PDF, 162KB, 2 pages)

Paediatrics offers many opportunities whilst in training for taking time out of programme for volunteering overseas, completing research and a higher degree or completing GMC approved training placements outside of the trainees normal training programme, eg in Australia. Approximately 20% of paediatric trainees work less than full time (LTFT) for various reasons, from caring responsibilities to olympic training!

What does the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health do?

The RCPCH does not directly train doctors within the College; the work done by the RCPCH facilitates paediatric specialty training nationwide in each deanery region.

The RCPCH is responsible for setting the standards of paediatric training including:

  • coordinating and quality assuring recruitment to paediatric specialty training
  • supporting paediatric trainees through the training programme
  • producing the paediatric curriculum and assessment pathway to inform paediatric training
  • creation and administration of the MRCPCH examination
  • recommending paediatric trainees who have completed training for the GMC specialist register
  • providing continuing professional developement opportunities for paediatricians.

Further information on other healthcare careers working with children

doctor with young patient.web.jpgIs paediatrics for you? Are you:

  • committed to promoting the welfare of children?
  • able to be patient, senstive and empathetic?
  • approachable and diplomatic?
  • comfortable with an informal and flexible environment?
  • good at communicating with a wide range of people?
  • someone who thrives in a team situation?
  • fun-loving with a good sense of humour?

A day in the life of a paediatric trainee

Find further information on paediatric training

Are you completing your GCSEs or A-levels?

Currently at medical school?

Have you started your foundation training?


Contact the careers team for further information or queries

Email: Recruitment and Careers team