Child abuse pediatricians are doctors with special training, experience, and skills in evaluating children who may be victims of some type of abuse or neglect.
Child abuse pediatricians are contacted by medical staff or investigative agencies when a child is a suspected victim of abuse. Child abuse pediatricians may also be asked for help by parents or a child’s primary care doctor. Not all hospitals and communities have a child abuse pediatrician locally. In certain cases, a child abuse pediatrician may evaluate a child’s records to provide an expert opinion if asked by a court, police, child protective services, or lawyers. These requests may occur well after a child’s injury.
Education and Training
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 paediatrician. During medical school, you are required to complete various clinical rotations in specialities, such as emergency medicine, psychiatry and critical care.
After graduating, a three-year paediatric residency is next. Residency is followed by a three-year fellowship in a child abuse paediatrician program, which is required to be eligible to become board certified in the sub speciality.
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.