Choosing your specialty: Paediatrics

Paediatrics is a popular area of medicine that manages conditions affecting infants, children and young people. It is a large and varying field that encompasses everything from high-technology specialties such as neonatology, to community-based services like the management of disabled children. It also aims to minimise the adverse effects of disease, while allowing children to live as normal a life as possible.

This is another speciality that enjoys a diverse workload as caring for a small baby is completely different to treating a teenager, and paediatricians must rapidly meet the needs of their patients, no matter what their age. Paediatricians are also able to engage in flexible working, with many only working part time hours. You will also be able to contribute to research, as there are many new medical discoveries made in this field.

Is this speciality for you?

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Working with children and helping to put them on the road to recovery can be a hugely rewarding process, and to make a success of this speciality, there are a few key personal skills you should make sure you have:

  • Good communication skills – you will need to be able to interact well with children as well as be able to explain medical situations to their parents
  • Enjoy working with children of all ages
  • Be able to work well within a team
  • Strong diagnosing skills, as children won’t be able to describe their symptoms and complaints as clearly as adults could
  • Sense of humour
  • Emotional resilience, patience and sensitivity are all needed when working with children

A typical day could include working in any of the following settings:

  • 24-hour services for acute inpatient care and A&E
  • outpatient consultations and clinical management for long-term conditions
  • clinical advice to social services, education and other agencies

If you would prefer to focus on a sub specialty, then there is also plenty of choice in this area:

  • oncology
  • rheumatology
  • neonatology
  • neurology
  • neurodisability
  • nephrology
  • endocrinology and diabetes
  • gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition
  • immunology, infectious diseases and allergy
  • paediatric emergency medicine
  • paediatric intensive care
  • respiratory
  • community child health
  • clinical pharmacology and therapeutics
  • children’s mental health