Kids Health Info

Paediatricians - about

  • What is a paediatrician?

    A paediatrician is a doctor who provides specialist medical care to infants, children and adolescents. To become a paediatrician, doctors must do an extra six years of training after they finish their medical degree. There are general paediatricians and specialist paediatricians such as paediatric cardiologists, gastroenterologists, developmental experts, etc. Some work in the country, some in private practice in the metropolitan area and some in hospitals.

    Consulting a paediatrician 

    • Many common childhood illnesses can be managed well by your family doctor.
    • If you think your child needs to see a paediatrician, visit your family doctor and discuss your concerns with them first. They will assess your child and make a referral to an appropriate paediatrician.
    • You can also see a paediatrician without a referral from your family doctor. However, if you visit a specialist doctor without a referral you will not get a refund from Medicare - you will need to pay the full costs yourself.
    • If you have had a paediatrician recommended to you by family or friends, discuss this with your family doctor.

    How to make an appointment

    A referral to a paediatrician can be either public or private.

    • A public referral is made to a hospital outpatient clinic and you see the paediatrician on duty for that day. When you get the referral from your family doctor, call the hospital clinic and make an appointment.
    • Private referral is made to a specific paediatrician, often a doctor of your choice. You need to call the paediatrician's rooms to make an appointment.

    How much does it cost?

    • If you have a Medicare card, a visit to a paediatrician at the hospital outpatient clinic does not cost you anything.
    • A private paediatrician's fees will vary and there is usually some cost to you, usually called "out-of-pocket expenses".
    • Ask when you make the appointment how much it will cost and how much you will get back from Medicare.

    Making the most of your visit

    Before you go and see the paediatrician take some time to prepare:

    • Write down the reason for your visit and your concerns.
    • Write down all the questions you want to ask.
    • Make a list of any medications your child is taking, including complementary or alternative therapies.  Include the dose (how much medicine) and how often.
    • Take your child's health record booklet.

    During your visit:

    • Write down anything that is important or that you might forget.
    • Ask questions if you don't understand anything the paediatrician says.

    Coming into hospital

    If your child is under the care of a paediatrician and needs to come into hospital:

    • Tell the admitting clerk at the hospital the name, address, fax and phone of your child's paediatrician.
    • Ask for a copy of your child's discharge summary when going home.
    • Ask for a copy of the discharge summary to be sent to your child's paediatrician.

    Key points to remember

    • If you think your child needs to see a paediatrician, visit your family doctor first and discuss your concerns with them.
    • If your child needs to come into hospital, give the hospital the name, address and fax of your paediatrician.
    • To make the most of your visit to the paediatrician, think about what you want to ask before you go and write down any questions you may have.

    For more information



    Produced by the RCH Primary Care Liaison Unit ( First published June 2006. Reviewed November 2010.

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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.