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Student Careers

A career in paediatrics

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 08 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:j5455
  1. Lydia Silvester, foundation year 2 doctor1,
  2. Hannah Jacob, specialist trainee in paediatrics2
  1. 1North Devon District Hospital, UK
  2. 2University College London Institute of Child Health, UK

If you have a good sense of humour, attention to detail, and can build rapport with patients and their families, then paediatrics might be for you

Paediatricians focus on minimising the adverse effects of disease, while allowing children to live as normal a life as possible.1 Paediatricians can work with infants, children, and young people across a range of specialties, from neonatology, the children’s accident and emergency department, and community paediatrics, to inpatients with long term chronic conditions. This means the physiological differences of your patients vary widely between age groups. Paediatrics is a holistic specialty where you consider not only medical conditions but also patients’ mental and social wellbeing to tailor treatment that helps patients to live their life to its full potential. Paediatricians must also be excellent diagnosticians because the number of invasive investigations and procedures they can perform is limited. Therefore, being thorough and being able to see subtle differences on examination are essential to succeeding in the specialty.


A good paediatrician must be able to communicate well with patients, parents, and family members of different ages and backgrounds. You will be kept on your toes and need to have a variety of approaches to build rapport with children and their families. You will need separate relationships with each, especially as children get older—awareness of children’s cartoon characters will work for only so long. It’s important that you are seen as a responsible professional and are able to manage stressed and upset parents and clearly explain disease processes without using jargon. Families who understand a condition and treatment have a positive impact on the …

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