Paediatric Surgeon Career Guide: Qualifications, Job Description & Career Prospects

December 3, 2013

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Paediatric surgery is a sub-specialty that focuses on surgical procedures specifically for children and young adults. This could include neonatal surgery, prenatal surgery, foetal surgery, paediatric trauma and paediatric oncology. 

Job Description

Paediatric surgeons are paediatricians that are especially trained to perform various medical procedures on young patients. They are usually employed at children’s hospitals where they are responsible for diagnosing and providing operative care to children with a variety of illnesses, diseases and health conditions. They examine medical records, perform tests and other physical examinations and discuss effective treatment options with their patient’s parents and caregivers. The smaller size of their patients makes the job of a paediatric surgeon a highly complex one requiring the highest level of accuracy. Paediatric surgeons often collaborate with various other healthcare professions when need be, to provide the best possible care for each individual minor patient.

GM_Tanz_2013.jpg Training to be a Paediatric surgeon

In Australia and New Zealand, the training scheme is designed, administered and co-ordinated by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS).

As per their guidelines, to qualify as a paediatric surgeon, you must first complete 4 years of medical school where you will gain extensive classroom and laboratory training as well as clinical rotations of all major medical disciplines.

Following qualification as a medical doctor, you must then successfully complete your intern year. As a resident medical officer, you will be eligible to apply for advanced training in Paediatric Surgery.

Once appointed, the programme involves a minimum of 6 years full-time training in accredited centres. Students train in several different centres across different states in Australia and in New Zealand. At different stages during the training, you will have to successfully sit for several exams. During the last year of training you sit for the final fellowship examination. If you complete this successfully, you are awarded an FRACS in Paediatric Surgery, which is your license to practice.

If you would like to follow the consultancy route, you would spend another 1 to 2 years in post fellowship training to be able to apply for a consultant position. Most students spend 10 years after qualifying as a doctor before completing their training in surgery and becoming eligible for appointment to a consultant position.

Paediatric surgeons are required to be recertified every 10 years. For this you will have to complete continuing education on a regular basis to maintain your license and remain up to date with your skills and the current advancements in the field.

Career Prospects As A Paediatric Surgeon

Career prospects are expected to be great, more so for highly skilled and qualified paediatric surgeons that have extensive experience. Numerous job openings are expected as employment of all surgeons is expected to grow faster than average for all professions.

A career as a paediatric surgeon is an excellent choice for any medical student who has a strong interest in caring for paediatric patients and who is also interested in surgery.