Critical care pediatricians specialize in providing life-saving treatments for children suffering from all types of injuries or disorders, generally providing care in hospital settings such as ICUs.

Watch an Overview of Critical Care Pediatrics

About Critical Care Pediatrics

Pediatric critical care is a field of emergency medicine concerned with the treatment of infants, children and adolescents that are in critical condition as a result of a disease, disorder or injury. Generally, critical care pediatricians provide care in pediatric intensive care units (PICUs), which are specialized areas of hospitals that are equipped to treat children suffering from a wide range of life-threatening injuries or diseases. Critical care pediatricians provide medical care for children for a range of disorders and complications resulting from severe infections, trauma, organ and system failure, genetic disorders, congenital disorders and a host of others.

Critical care pediatricians are also referred to as pediatric intensivists, and provide life-saving care to infants, children and adolescents that other physicians may not be capable of. When a patient is admitted to the PICU, pediatric intensivists work swiftly to stabilize and diagnose the patient. After stabilizing a patient, the pediatric intensivist will often work in conjunction with a multidisciplinary medical team, coordinating a comprehensive care plan that often involves other specialists, and may or may not require surgery. If a surgical procedure is required that is unable to be performed by the pediatric intensivist, the physician will work with the other surgeon(s) to ensure that the necessary care is provided.

Critical Care Pediatrics Education & Training

Physicians trained in the specialty of pediatric critical care are capable of treating children for life threatening conditions - their vast training and knowledge translates into life-saving care in pediatric intensive care units (PICUs). The education of a critical care pediatrician begins with the completion of an undergraduate degree usually focused on the sciences. After earning an undergraduate degree, the student must enter medical school to work toward an MD or DO medical degree. During medical school, the student is exposed to the basic tenets of medical care through classroom, laboratory and clinical instruction.

Following medical school, the physician is required to complete a three year residency in pediatrics. During this residency the physician will provide comprehensive care to children, generally through clinical rotations, while under the supervision of experienced pediatricians. During a pediatric residency, the physician becomes familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of illnesses and complications that can affect children; the physicians are also trained in the proper bedside manner that is necessary when providing care for children.

Following completion of a residency program, the physician will usually seek out board certification in pediatrics from American Board of Pediatrics before entering into a two year fellowship in pediatric critical care. As a fellow, the physician will complete clinical rotations throughout PICUs, treating children in critical condition and suffering from life-threatening conditions. Following completion of a fellowship, most critical care pediatricians seek board certification in pediatric critical care medicine from the American Board of Pediatrics.