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How to become a paediatrician

If you want to enter the medical profession and help to transform the lives of young people, the world of paediatrics could be your calling. Find out how to become a paediatrician here.

A paediatrician checks a child's health

Are you all about making a difference in the lives of kids and teens? If you’re nodding along, then a career as a paediatrician could be calling your name. 

You’ll be tasked with managing medical conditions affecting anyone under the age of 18, which means you can make a genuine difference in someone’s life during their most important developmental years.

In this article, we’ll discuss what a paediatrician does, the qualifications you’ll need, the average paediatrician’s salary, and much more. Take your first step on your journey to becoming a paediatrician today.

What is a paediatrician?

A paediatrician is a doctor who works with young people below the age of 18. In some cases, you’ll work with a particular age group, such as babies or older children. 

You’ll be expected to work directly with young patients and be comfortable interacting with them on a daily basis. This means your days will be spent diagnosing, treating, and being that supportive figure during their healing journey. 

Here are some of the key areas you can specialise in as a paediatrician:

  • Allergy, immunology, and infectious disease protection
  • Child mental health
  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Emergency medicine
  • Neonatal intensive care
  • Neurology
  • Oncology
  • Palliative medicine.

What are the responsibilities of a paediatrician?

Day-to-day responsibilities will vary depending on the age of your patients and the area you specialise in. However, you can expect to carry out the following duties:

  • Managing acute cases on wards and in A&E
  • Working with long-term health conditions
  • Chatting with patients’ families and carers
  • Discussing sensitive treatment options
  • Providing clinical advice to social services, education, and other agencies.

What qualifications are required to become a paediatrician?

Here’s the scoop on the qualifications you need to kickstart your journey. Firstly, you’ll need a relevant degree in medicine. To secure a five-year undergraduate degree in medicine in the UK, you’ll need three A or A* passes at A-level (including chemistry). For those that have a degree in another field, you’ll need to study for a four-year postgraduate degree in medicine.

Both routes will involve having to pass an interview and admissions test. You’ll also need to demonstrate you have the right values and are suitable for the role by taking the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT).

Once you’ve completed your degree, you’ll need to join the paid two-year foundation programme where you’ll work in six placements in different settings. From here, you then need to apply for paid speciality training to become a paediatrician. This training will take a minimum of eight years.

What are the skills required to be a paediatrician?

What makes a great paediatrician? Beyond qualifications, it’s about having the right skills.  You’re not just treating medical conditions; you’re also bringing comfort and care.

Paediatrician skills requirements include:

  • Emotional resilience and ability to deal with sensitive medical issues
  • Excellent communication skills – both with patients/families and colleagues
  • Ability to work well under pressure and problem-solve
  • Good organisation and efficiency
  • Excellent decision-making skills
  • Extensive knowledge and understanding of medicines and treatments.

How many years does it take to become a paediatrician?

Time’s a factor, but remember – it’s a journey.  Depending on the route you take, where you study, and pace you do it (full-time or part-time), you can expect approximately 15 years of dedicated study and training.

However, you will be working as a paediatrician in the meantime as part of your paid foundation programme and speciality training. So, think of it like this – you’ll also grow with your young patients, with each step adding to your expertise and compassion.

What are the typical working hours of a paediatrician?

As a paediatrician, your schedule will be as dynamic as the lives you’re caring for. Expect to to work around 41 to 48 hours a week. Your hours will be allocated using a rota system, which means you’ll be expected to work some evenings, weekends, and bank holidays as well. 

How much does a paediatrician make?

The good news is that you’ll start earning your first salary as a paediatrician when you begin your foundation training after medical school. The basic average paediatrician salary at this point is £29,384 to £34,012.

If you want to become a paediatrician in the UK and join the NHS, you’ll earn a salary of at least £40,257 whilst completing your speciality training. And as you climb up the ladder, this can rise to between £84,559 and £114,003 as a consultant. 

In the UK, the average paediatrician salary is £100,996. Other average salary expectations for paediatricians from around the world include:

What careers are available as a paediatrician?

Your career as a paediatrician has the potential to be extremely exciting and varied. As we mentioned above, there are plenty of different areas you can specialise in, all of which can help to broaden your medical knowledge and add to your skill set. For most paediatricians, the end goal is to become a senior consultant.

A career in paediatrics could also lead you to:

  • Becoming a specialist or researcher in areas like diabetes, neurodisability, or gastroenterology
  • Managing a team or department
  • Becoming a medical director for an NHS trust
  • Teaching medical students, trainee doctors, and other healthcare professionals.

How to become a paediatrician: additional learning

Learning how to become a paediatrician is a life-changing journey that prepares you for making a huge difference to the lives of young people on a daily basis. 

While challenging at times, a career as a paediatrician can be incredibly rewarding, as you’ll play a key role in supporting young people through times of need.

So, what’s the next step? If this guide has helped you confirm your interest in this career, why not take a look at our range of paediatric care courses? At FutureLearn, we work with leading healthcare practitioners to boost your knowledge and skills, so we’ve got the knowledge to fuel your passion.

Online paediatrics courses at FutureLearn

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