What do paediatricians do?
Paediatricians are medical specialists who diagnose, treat and provide medical care for babies, children and teenagers. They deal with illnesses and the child's physical, mental and behavioural development.
What training does a paediatrician have?
In Australia, paediatricians need to complete at least 6 years of full-time training after they become a doctor.
They can become general paediatricians or they can specialise in areas such as:
- paediatric emergency medicine
- neonatal and perinatal medicine, focusing on the fetus and on premature and newborn babies
- developmental and behavioural paediatrics
- paediatric cardiology, focusing on heart conditions
What conditions do paediatricians treat?
Paediatricians treat a wide range of illnesses, injuries and conditions. They often examine and treat babies immediately after birth. They can assess and if necessary resuscitate newborns and manage treatment of premature babies.
They treat babies, children and teenagers with:
- genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome
- disabilities such as cerebral palsy
- developmental delays
- chronic diseases such as diabetes
- infectious diseases such as meningitis
- asthma and allergies
- autism spectrum disorder
Where do paediatricians work?
Paediatricians see children in a surgery, in a clinic or in a community health centre. Many work in public and private children's hospitals, and treat babies in maternity units, special care baby units and neonatal intensive care units. Some paediatricians work in the accident and emergency units of hospitals.
They often work as part of a multidisciplinary team, which may also include GPs, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists and other allied health professionals.
How do I find a paediatrician?
Ask your GP or obstetrician to refer you to a suitable paediatrician. For some disorders, your child will need to be seen by a paediatrician who has sub-specialised in a particular area.
Unless the matter is urgent, you may have a long wait before you can get an appointment with a paediatrician for your child.
How much will a paediatrician cost?
Paediatricians' fees vary a lot, depending on: the type of care your child receives; whether it's in hospital or not; whether you have private health insurance; and on what the paediatrician charges.
If you see a paediatrician in their rooms, Medicare will cover:
- all of the costs if they bulk bill
- some of the costs if they don't bulk bill
You can't use private health insurance for out-of-hospital care.
Treatment in a public hospital using Medicare
If your child is treated in a public hospital or clinic and you use Medicare, it will be free. Medicare will cover all the costs.
Treatment in any hospital using private health insurance
If you use private health insurance for treatment in either a public hospital or a private hospital or clinic, you will be charged by the paediatrician and by the hospital. You might also be charged for pathology tests, x-rays and other forms of imaging, and by other doctors you see. Your private health insurance will cover some of these costs.
Asking about costs
It can be expensive to see specialists, including paediatricians.
Before you go for your first appointment, ask the paediatrician or their staff about the costs. You can also ask what Medicare will cover.
If you plan to use private health insurance, you can also contact your health fund.
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Last reviewed: November 2020