Unique Medical Specialties; Becoming a Pediatric Child Abuse Doctor

February 27, 2015

Local children in Tanzania.jpg If you are considering becoming a doctor, you may be trying to decide what area of medicine is the best fit for your goals, interests and personality. For those who are interested in caring for children, becoming a pediatrician is an obvious choice. While most people have heard of a pediatrician, there are some subspecialties, which are unique. One pediatric subspecialty you may not be familiar with is child abuse pediatrician.  

The Responsibilities of a Child Abuse Doctor

Child abuse pediatrics is a new subspecialty of pediatric medicine. Doctors who specialize in child abuse diagnose and treat various issues, which develop due to abuse. Child abuse pediatricians may care for children who suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse, as well as neglect.

Going through a trauma, such as abuse, can lead to not only physical problems, but emotional issues as well. Child abuse specialists have the expertise to understand the complex conditions, which can develop due to any type of child maltreatment.

Some child abuse pediatricians are also involved in research to develop better ways to treat victims of child abuse. They work closely with social workers, psychologists and law enforcement members to prevent child abuse and prosecute it when it does occur. For example, child abuse pediatricians may provide expert witness testimony in court hearings.

Education and Certification

If you are interested in becoming any type of doctor including a child abuse pediatrician, it starts by earning a four-year undergrad degree. A specific major in college is not required, but classes in anatomy, chemistry and biology are usually needed before applying to med school. The medical school admission test is also a prerequisite for applying to medical school.

It is also helpful to have some volunteer experience in the medical field. If possible volunteer in a hospital, clinic or non-profit program, which helps abused children. Volunteer experience not only helps boost your medical school application, it provides you an opportunity to learn more about the medical field and be sure it is something you want to do.

Completing four years of medical school is the next step to becoming a child abuse pediatrician. During medical school, you are required to complete various clinical rotations in specialties, such as emergency medicine, psychiatry and critical care.

After graduating, a three-year pediatric residency is next. Residency is followed by a three-year fellowship in a child abuse pediatrician program, which is required to be eligible to become board certified in the subspecialty.

During fellowship, doctors will learn how to distinguish injuries from child abuse from other types of trauma, such as accidental injuries. Doctors also focus on performing extensive medical evaluations of children who are victims of abuse or neglect.

After completing all the required trainings, doctors are eligible to take an exam offered through the American Board of Pediatrics to become certified in child abuse pediatrics.

Child abuse pediatricians work in a variety of settings including large teaching hospitals, child advocacy centers and in universities conducting research. Some doctors are also involved in advocacy working for the prevention of child abuse.