Health Service Categories and Careers


Paediatrics and Child Health focuses on the health and wellbeing of children, from neonates to adolescents. Medical conditions which affect children often involve congenital defects, genetic variance, and developmental issues. Children require medical care and treatment which considers their physiological characteristics and psychosocial needs. For example, their small body size, maturation, and metabolism can affect the pharmacokinetic properties of medicines and require extra skills and specific equipment. The psychosocial needs of the paediatric patient and their family is of critical importance, and care is structured and coordinated with this in mind. Paediatrics, like adult internal medicine, is very broad.

Paediatricians can work in general paediatrics, or specialise in one of the following subspecialties - Clinical genetics, Community child health, Neonatal and perinatal medicine, Paediatric cardiology, Paediatric clinical pharmacology, Paediatric emergency medicine Paediatric endocrinology, Paediatric gastroenterology and hepatology, Paediatric haematology, Paediatric immunology and allergy, Paediatric infectious diseases, Paediatric intensive care medicine, Paediatric medical oncology, Paediatric nephrology, Paediatric nuclear medicine. Paediatric respiratory and Sleep medicine, Paediatric neurology, Paediatric palliative medicine, Paediatric rehabilitation medicine, and Paediatric rheumatology.

Paediatrics and Child Health Jobs

General Paediatricians specialise in the care of infants, children and adolescents. They provide medical, clinical and psychosocial care and services to the paediatric population and work across acute, inpatient, outpatient and community settings. They are capable in general practice as well as emergency medicine, and have broad knowledge and skills to assess, diagnose, manage, treat and help prevent paediatric health disorders. They seek to educate their patients and improve their health, development, and wellbeing. They provide ongoing and wrap-around support to paediatric patients and their caregivers, especially those with congenital or chronic health conditions. They collaborate with a range of medical, health and allied health practitioners to provide integrated healthcare to their patients. To pursue a career in this field, registered doctors need to complete Basic Training in Paediatrics & Child Health, which is the first part of the 6-year RACP training program to become a Paediatrician. Doctors then undertake Advanced Training in General Paediatrics, or a subspecialty area, which leads to Fellowship and Specialist Registration with AHPRA.

Paediatric Clinical Geneticists diagnose genetic disorders in infants and children and consult with family members on management and treatment. They help families understand hereditary conditions and provide genetic testing and counselling. For more information see Clinical Genetics. To become a Specialist Paediatric Clinical Geneticist, doctors undertake RACP Basic Training in Paediatrics and Child Health, and then Advanced Training in Clinical Genetics, which altogether is a 6-year RACP program which leads to Fellowship and Specialist Registration with AHPRA.

Community Child Health Specialists are Paediatricians who specialise in Community Child Health – a subspecialty of Paediatrics which focuses on providing quality healthcare and medical services to individual children and all infants, children and young people in the community. It studies the interplay between human biology and the physical, social and environmental factors that affect the growth and development of young people. Community Child Health Specialists work across three domains - child protection, child development and behaviour, and/or child population health. In all domains, they apply their broad general medical knowledge to undertake investigations and assessments, create care/management plans, prescribe medicines, perform medical procedures, and provide therapeutic treatments. They play an important role in coordinating care and connecting patients to different health, community and allied health programs and services. They apply an integrated, multi-disciplinary and psycho-social approach to patient care. They help children and young people who might be at risk of harm, who are victims of abuse or neglect, who live in out of home care, who have developmental and behavioural problems, learning needs, and/or have chronic and complex conditions, special needs or disabilities. They are mindful of educational, social, family, cultural, spiritual, economic, environmental and political contexts, and their impact on children. They utilise community resources and collaborate with parents, agencies, schools and other practitioners including speech pathologists, occupational therapists, dieticians, family counsellors and other medical specialists. They advocate for the health needs of their patients, families and the community. They seek to reduce health inequities, provide health education and prevention programs, keep up to date and knowledgeable about government policies, and provide academic leadership through participation in teaching, training and research. Child population health looks at health needs for different child and adolescent populations. Paediatricians working in this area are involved in community monitoring, screening and diagnosis, infectious disease control, risk reduction and safety, health program planning and evaluation, and research involving quantitative and qualitative measurement of health outcomes in the population. To pursue a career in Community Child Health, registered doctors undertake RACP Basic Training in Paediatrics and Child Health, and then Advanced Training in Community Child Health, which altogether is a 6-year RACP program leading to Fellowship and Specialist Registration with AHPRA.

Neonatologists are Paediatricians who have specialised in Neonatal and perinatal medicine. They diagnose, manage, treat and provide specialist care for critically ill newborn or premature babies who are suffering from illness, infection or disease. Typical problems they treat are breathing disorders, organ displacement and serious infections. These specialists coordinate care for infants who may need surgery or who are placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Practice involves caring for healthy newborns as well as those requiring intensive care. Neonatologists provide counselling to parents who have a fetus at significant risk, and they provide ongoing and follow up care. The nature of their work demands that they work closely with obstetricians, general physicians and paediatricians. They are also involved in teaching, training and research activities. To pursue a career as a Neonatologist, registered doctors must complete RACP Basic Training in Paediatrics and Child Health, and then undertake Advanced Training in Neonatal/Perinatal Medicine. Altogether this is a 6-year RACP training program leading to Fellowship and Specialist Registration with AHPRA.

Paediatric Cardiologists diagnose, manage and treat children with cardiovascular system problems such as arrhythmias, congenital or acquired heart disease, or multi-system disorders. For children with severe conditions who require surgery, paediatric cardiologists work closely with paediatric heart surgeons. Their expertise includes prevention, investigation, therapy of, and research into, disease involving the cardiovascular system of children. They play an important role consulting with primary care providers, general and subspecialist paediatricians, emergency and ambulatory services, and regional/rural medical centres. Paediatric cardiologists apply a biopsychosocial approach to patient care and are mindful of improving outcomes and quality of life for their patients and their family. They coordinate patient care and work in multidisciplinary teams. They provide ongoing secondary care to paediatric patients with congenital or chronic conditions, and they contribute to medical education and health policy. Paediatric cardiologists work in hospitals and private clinics in both acute/ICU/emergency and outpatient settings. To pursue a career as a Paediatric Cardiologist, registered doctors must complete RACP Basic Training and then undertake Advanced Training in Paediatric Cardiology. Altogether this training takes a minimum of 6 years and leads to Fellowship and Specialist Registration with AHPRA.

Paediatric Clinical Pharmacologists have expert training in the development and administration of medicines and their safe and proper use. They are involved in research, clinical trials, ethics, drug regulation and education. They help to create policies, administer medicines and provide advice on adverse drug reactions, poisoning or substance abuse. For more information, see the medical specialty Clinical Pharmacology, a subspecialty of Adult Internal Medicine.

Paediatric clinical pharmacologists are qualified in clinical pharmacology but have studied paediatric specific material and can adapt drug advice to the paediatric population. They apply principles of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics to drug dosing regimens for preterm neonates, neonates, infants, children, and adolescents, and during pregnancy and lactation. They interact with laboratory scientists, and government agencies and authorities. They discuss principles of consent and other ethical issues relating to the paediatric population. Paediatric clinical pharmacologists work in laboratory, research, education and industry settings. In hospitals, they work in paediatric inpatient and outpatient clinics. They provide advice to parents about drug administration to their children, investigate and manage medication-related health issues, monitor outcomes, and provide pharmacology expertise to other medical staff treating paediatric patients. To pursue a career as a Paediatric clinical pharmacologist, registered doctors must undertake RACP Basic Training, followed by Advanced Training in Clinical Pharmacology (Paediatric division). Altogether this training takes a minimum of 6 years to complete and leads to Fellowship and Specialist Registration with AHPRA.

Specialist Paediatric Emergency Physicians are trained in the short-term emergency management and treatment of children, from neonates to adolescents. They experience a broad range of emergency and critical care situations and have well developed clinical skills to manage children who are suffering from acute and life-threatening injury or illness. Paediatric emergency physicians provide care across primary, secondary, and tertiary conditions in the paediatric population. At this senior level, physicians have a leadership role. They consult with subspecialty physicians and manage potential conflicts to care. They always consider the psychosocial needs of their paediatric patients and caregivers, and their role often extends to educational consultation within the medical and general communities. They may also provide expert medico-legal opinion. To train in Paediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM), qualified paediatricians and doctors can undertake Advanced Training in PEM through a joint program provided by RACP and the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM). This is a 3-4 year program, leading to (single or dual) fellowship with these colleges, and Specialist Registration with the Australian Medical Board (AHPRA).

Paediatric Haematologists specialise in the assessment and management of blood disorders and diseases involving blood-forming organs, in the paediatric population. This field of medicine involves clinical practice, including assessment and management, and laboratory haematology, including laboratory techniques, investigation, interpretation, laboratory management, and research. For more information, see Haematology in Adult Internal Medicine. Paediatric Haematologists diagnose and treat paediatric haematology conditions including inherited and genetic blood disorders haemophilia and hemoglobinopathies, cancer, platelet disorders, anaemias, some vascular anomalies, and other disorders involving abnormal haemoglobins, such as Sickle cell disease. To become a Paediatric Haematologist, doctors need to complete RACP Basic Training in Paediatrics and Child Health, followed by a training program in Haematology which leads to Fellowship and Specialist Registration with the Medical Board of Australia (AHPRA). The Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) offers a 3-year Advanced Training program in Clinical Haematology, whereas the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) offers a 5-year Haematology training program, or there is a joint 4-year program available through both colleges.

Paediatric Immunologist and Allergists specialise in providing medical care to paediatric patients who have allergies or other conditions involving the immune system. They diagnose, manage, treat and prevent allergic diseases – including food, insect, and drug allergies, anaphylaxis, eczema and asthma, autoimmune diseases – including Celiac disease, inflammation and juvenile dermatomyositis, as well as immunodeficiencies which may be present at birth, acquired or a result of treatment/organ transplant. For more information, see Immunology and Allergy , a subspecialty of Internal Medicine. Paediatric immunologists and allergists treat newborns, infants, children and adolescents. They take medical histories, perform clinical examinations, conduct and order diagnostic tests, design management plans and tailor treatment which considers the psychosocial needs of the child. They educate their patients and caregivers about the immunological condition, disease prevention and long-term management. They work in multidisciplinary teams providing on-going medical care, which may include integration of community and allied health care services. They collaborate with, and make referrals to, other medical and paediatric specialists. Paediatric Allergists/Immunologists work in community and private practices and in hospital settings. Some conduct research in areas of interest, for example, paediatric vaccine immunology, or are involved in education and training. Those who have specialised in Immunopathology can work in diagnostic laboratory operations and research. To pursue a career in Paediatric Immunology/Allergy, registered doctors have 2 pathways to consider. Firstly, they need to complete Basic Training in Paediatrics and Child Health, which is a 3-year RACP program. After this they can undertake advanced training in Clinical Immunology and Allergy, a 3-year RACP program, or alternatively, the 4-year joint RACP/RCPA training program in Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology. Both options lead to Fellowship and Specialist Registration with AHPRA.

Paediatric Infectious Diseases Physicians provide specialist medical care to paediatric patients who are suffering with an infectious disease or related condition. Some children experience infectious diseases that are reoccurring or stubbornly persistent against treatments, such as hepatitis, meningitis, meningococcal disease, respiratory illnesses, tuberculosis or bone and joint infections. For more information on this medical specialty, see Infectious Diseases, a subspecialty of Internal Medicine. Paediatric Infectious Diseases physicians manage infants, children, and adolescents presenting with infections in a number of settings, including perioperative and intensive care units in hospitals. They consult with other specialist paediatricians, generalists, and surgeons, as well as primary care providers and ambulance services. They work within multidisciplinary teams, and are often involved in research, training, education and advocacy across health care, public health, and community health settings. To qualify in this area of medicine, doctors complete 3-years of RACP Basic Training in Paediatrics and Child Health, followed by a further 3 years of Advanced Training in Infectious Diseases. There is also 5-year joint training program, through the RACP and Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA), which combines two (2) years advanced Infectious Diseases training and three (3) years of laboratory training in Microbiology. Both of these pathways lead to Fellowship and Specialist Registration with AHPRA.

Specialist Paediatric Intensive Care Physicians also called Paediatric Intensivists, specialise in managing and providing medical care to paediatric patients who are in emergency departments or the ICU with serious and/or life-threatening diseases or injuries. On a given day they may treat children with head trauma, injuries from a car accident, organ failure, severe heart defects, pneumonia, a severe asthma attack or respiratory problems requiring ventilators. They must stabilise children in critical conditions and consult with other physicians on the best treatment plan for the child, both in the emergency room and when discharged. They monitor their patients, manage medications, and coordinate follow-up care. To train in this area, doctors from PGY 2+ can undertake the 6-year program of Paediatric Intensive Care training with the College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand, which leads to Fellowship (FCICM) and Specialist registration with the Australian Medical Board (AHPRA). Once at this level, they are senior doctors and subspecialist Paediatricians, and their role involves continued professional development, clinical leadership, and contribution to teaching, research, quality improvement and administration.

Paediatric Endocrinologists diagnose and manage disorders of the endocrine system in children. These include metabolism and thyroid disorders, childhood obesity, bone and growth disorders, adrenal gland issues, diabetes and puberty disorders. Paediatric subspecialists provide clinical leadership and consult directly with patients, other paediatricians, and specialists to ensure optimal care and provide continuity of care which considers the psychosocial needs of the child patient and their family. They consult in both inpatient and outpatient settings in hospitals and private clinics and contribute to research and training. To become a Paediatric Endocrinologist, doctors who have completed RACP Basic training can undertake Advanced Training in Endocrinology, a 3-year RACP program which leads to fellowship and specialist registration with the Australian Medical Board (AHPRA).

Specialist Paediatric Gastroenterologists and Hepatologists specialise in the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and management of gastroenterology and liver disorders in the paediatric population, from neonates to adolescents. They understand the structure and function of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and associated organs, and the physiological and anatomical principles related to this area, including pharmacotherapy, radiology and histopathology investigations, immunology and infections, and molecular and cellular physiology and genetics. For more information, see Gastroenterology and Hepatology in adult internal medicine. Specialist paediatric gastroenterologists and hepatologists are experts in developmental gastroenterology, including the assessment and management of congenital and early onset disorders, neonatal and inherited disorders, paediatric developmental abnormalities which affect absorption and metabolism, and other GI issues related to infants, children and adolescents. They provide emergency and intensive care to paediatric patients suffering from GI emergencies, including neonatal and childhood liver diseases and hepatic failure. Other paediatric GI conditions include gastro-oesophageal reflux, ingested batteries, feeding difficulties, constipation, childhood obesity, allergy, chronic pancreatitis, failure to thrive, congenital anomalies, and management of other syndromes and disorders which impact the GI system like cystic fibrosis and cerebral palsy. They conduct clinical assessments and interpret specialised diagnostic processes such as imaging or gastroscopy/upper endoscopy. Management and treatment involve education, nutrition support, pharmacotherapy, and collaboration with other medical and allied health practitioners with expertise in allergy, immunology and dietetics, paediatrics or paediatric surgery. As paediatricians, they are mindful of the psychosocial aspects of gastrointestinal medicine. To pursue a career as a Specialist Paediatric Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, registered doctors who have completed RACP Basic Training in Paediatrics and Child Health, can undertake Advanced Training in Gastroenterology, a 3-year RACP program leading to Fellowship and Specialist Registration with AHPRA. At this senior level, doctors are involved in training and research activities, and provide clinical leadership in their field.

Registrars (Paediatrics and Child Health) are registered doctors who have completed their medical degree and pre-vocational training (internship and residency/PGY2-3). They have attained general registration with AHPRA and can now undertake specialist/or vocational training positions to broaden and refine their scope of practice and gain experience, skills and competency in their chosen area of medicine. Registrars are very important members of the integrated and multi-disciplinary health care team. They have increasing responsibility for patient care, oversee and support junior doctors and staff, participate in professional development activities and continue to receive important guidance, training, and support from senior staff. Registrars who work in this area are undertaking advanced training in Paediatrics and Child Health and its clinical practice. They work under Paediatricians/specialist paediatric consultants and develop skills, clinical expertise, and valuable work experience in providing medical care, diagnosis and treatment for paediatric patients. They seek to provide psychosocial care of paediatric patients and their families.

Nurses (Maternal and Child Health) work in hospitals and community clinics, including mobile and outreach services. They support mothers, babies and families with health management, wellbeing and education. They provide health advice, conduct health checks, and can connect families to relevant medical, health and social support services and community groups. They provide community based post-natal care, and may run antenatal clinics. Similar roles include nursing positions in primary care and nursing in the broader area of community health. Registered Nurses and Midwives, and Nurses with further postgraduate qualifications can work in this area.

Nurses (Critical Care/PICU) work with acutely ill paediatric patients in Emergency and PICU and other high dependency units in hospitals. They may also work in other locations as part of a rapid response team. They specialise in providing nursing care to children who have immediate and serious health and medical needs from injury, acute illness or chronic/complex illness. They are skilled in managing patients in critical care settings and may be responsible for triage and evaluation, following patient management plans and recording changes, observing and monitoring a patient’s condition and vital signs, assisting paediatricians and medical staff with PICU therapies - such as ventilation, airway management and resuscitation, haemodynamic monitoring, dialysis, and other advanced life support, surgical or rehabilitation procedures. They provide support to the patient and their family during recovery or palliative care. To pursue a career in this field, nurses require current registration with AHPRA, and relevant clinical experience in ICU/PICU.