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Paediatricians care for the physical, mental and emotional health of children from birth to adolescence. They examine children at regular intervals to prevent problems, as well as to diagnose and treat illnesses or injuries. They advise parents on health, nutrition, development and other aspects of childcare.

When children are chronically ill or handicapped, advice is given to parents and children with regard to special services. Paediatricians may also serve as counsellors in situations ranging from advising parents on infant care to helping adolescents with emotional problems.

At times paediatricians consult with, or refer patients to, other specialists.

Satisfying Aspects
- working with children
- helping others
- variety and challenge of the work
- opportunities to specialize in various fields
- high degree of work satisfaction when a child improves or gets well

Demanding aspects
- many years of training required
- expenses that are incurred before being able to practise medicine
- long and irregular hours
- large amount of reading
- young or disabled persons cannot always communicate to tell you what is wrong with them

A paediatrician should:
- have a strong desire to help the sick and injured;
- like and enjoy working with children;
- be patient and understanding;
- be able to make good decisions;
- be able to communicate clearly in speech and in writing;
- be emotionally stable and mature;
- have above average intelligence;
- have an aptitude for science;
- be in good health and have physical stamina;
- enjoy studying and keeping up with the latest advances in this field.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences

Note: Competition to enter medical studies is stiff and there are usually many applicants with good grades, who tend to be given preference.

Degree: MBChB
- Theoretical training: 5 years.
- Student internship: 1 year.
- Practical work at a hospital: 1 year (also known as the house doctor year).

Post-graduate study for specialisation as a paediatrician:
MMed or FCP(SA): 4 years - e.g. UKZN, UP, US, UFS, UL, Wits.

Before commencing post-graduate study for specialization as a paediatrician the candidate must:
- be in possession of a MBChB degree for 2 years;
- be registered as a medical doctor with the Interim Medical and Dental Council (IMDC) of South Africa for 1 year.

On successful completion of the examination to qualify as a specialist, the candidate must register with the IMDC as a paediatrician.

- Hospitals, community and other health care facilities
- Universities
- Government departments
- Self-employment, in private practice

The South African Paediatric Association
Tel: (031) 207-6749

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 338-9300 Fax: (012) 328-5120