The Diploma for Child Health (DCH) - a guide for overseas paediatric doctors

  • April 10, 2020

The Diploma in Child Health (DCH) recognises competence in the care of children in specialties allied to paediatrics.

In this blog we will provide an overview of the DCH and consider the following topics:

What is the DCH? 

The DCH is reflective of current practice in the UK and covers a syllabus mapped by a wide range of medical professions, including paediatrics and GPs. The DCH (Diploma in Child Health) comprises two exams. You must achieve a pass mark in both in order to be awarded DCH. 

The exams are as follows: 

  • Foundation of Practice (FOP) theory exam - this is shared with the MRCPCH (membership exam)
  • DCH Clinical exam

Who is it for? 

The Diploma is aimed at those practitioners who want to consolidate their knowledge and skills in paediatrics and gain a qualification at the same time. According to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the DCH is designed to give recognition of competence in the care of children to general practitioner vocational trainees, staff grade doctors and senior house officers in paediatrics, and trainees in specialties allied to paediatrics’.

It not only helps to consolidate knowledge gained during paediatric training, but it also helps to focus and develop skills needed for the examination of children within primary and secondary care.

Candidates use the DCH as an opportunity for up-skilling, to drive learning and to gain an internationally recognised post graduate medical diploma.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health recommend that all candidates complete a short period of training in paediatrics before attempting the DCH Clinical examination. The aim of the examination is to assess whether candidates have reached the standard in clinical skills expected of a newly appointed General Practitioner who has completed a short period of training in paediatrics.

What does the syllabus cover? 

It is important to note that the DCH has an independent syllabus from the MRCPCH. However, the theoretical elements of the Foundation of Practice theory exam are shared across both.

Before embarking on the diploma, we recommend IMGs take a detailed look at the DCH syllabus which outlines the competencies required in both knowledge and skills. It provides a summary list of topics which are covered, and specifies the depth of knowledge and skills required, as well as guidance for trainees on what they must be taught and learn.

Am I eligible to take DCH?

The Royal College for Paediatrics and Child Health recommend that overseas candidates have at least six months' paediatrics experience.

To be eligible, overseas candidates will simply need to hold a recognised medical qualification and be registered with the GMC. 

You do not require a pass in English Language Tests to take the tests, however we have discussed this with several IMGs and it is important to note that a high standard of English will be required in order to pass. Don’t forget that you will require a sufficient pass in an English Language Test in order to complete registration with the GMC. 

Structure and content of DCH:

The Diploma consists of two exams, one theory (FOP) and one clinical exam. You can take the exams in any order, or during the same exam period. 

The Foundation of Practice theory exam (FOP) is computer-based and takes place three times a year in the UK and overseas. See our MRCPCH overview for more information on where you can sit the FOP theory exam, dates, times and costs.

How much does the DCH clinical exam cost? And where can I sit the exam? 

Fees vary depending on where you sit the exam, see below fees for 2019. 


Exam fee







Hong Kong


How do I apply for the exams? 

To apply for the DCH (Diploma in Child Health), you first need to register online for exams. You just need to do this once.

You need an RCPCH online account (with an RCPCH number). Then you can complete a short registration form – you will require evidence of your primary medical qualification.

How do I register for exams? 

You can register for exams at any time throughout the year. After your registration is accepted, you can apply for an exam but only during relevant open application periods.

It takes at least 10 working days to process registration.

During exam application periods we are not able to process registrations. Please register three to four weeks before exam application period opens to help ensure you do not miss your preferred exam diet. The best dates to register for exams are usually January, May and September.

How do I book an exam? 

  • Log in to your RCPCH account
  • Go to My Account 
  • From your dashboard, go to the Exams panel, and from your exam dashboard, follow links to apply

What do I need to know about the exam day?

Bring your ID:

You will need to bring one of the following forms of ID:

  • passport with photograph and signature - this must be current or no more than six months expired
  • valid driving license with photograph and signature
  • national identity card with photograph and signature

*Only original documents will be accepted.

For more information take a look at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health website

How do I prepare? 

With lots of materials online we have discussed with IMGs the best place to start looking for resources and materials relating to the exams. Most IMGs recommended starting with the Royal College, who have created useful resources to help you to prepare for the exams. 

A good start is to take a look at Clinical Cases in Paediatrics: DCH Clinical Textbook . It will cost your £35 but is a logical foundation for a start to any revision.

Useful online revision courses include those run by PASTEST and the Institute of Child Health.

As ever at IMG Connect, we believe in preparation. In order to succeed in the clinical exam, IMGs have told us that it is vital that you practise your clinical examinations as frequently as possible, preferably under the supervision of a senior colleague. This will give you confidence in approaching and examining children with examiners present.

Passed? What next? 

If you pass both DCH Clinical and Foundation of Practice (FOP) exams, you will receive a Diploma certificate. This certifies you are a holder of the Diploma in Child Health (RCPCH).

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