The Division of Pediatric Critical Care strives for excellence in patient care, research and fellowship training.

Our division provides comprehensive services for a wide variety of critically ill medical and surgical patients with acute, life-threatening disease and injuries.

The PICU provides intensive care for a wide range of complex, rapidly changing medical, surgical and traumatic disorders occurring in pediatric patients aged 18 and under. Medical and surgical subspecialists from all disciplines are immediately available in the PICU. Areas of subspecialty expertise include trauma, congenital heart disease, cardiovascular surgery, respiratory failure, neurosurgery, immunodeficiencies, hematologic and oncologic emergencies, sepsis and multi-organ system dysfunction. Available advanced treatment modalities include cardiovascular surgery (neonatal, pediatric and cardiac ECMO), high frequency ventilation, nitric oxide therapy, non-invasive ventilation and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Twenty-four-hour-a-day critical care consultation is available.

Clinical programs

CHEO delivers specialized care and treatment to critically ill, injured or surgical patients in a 10-bed pediatric intensive care unit. This unit features technologically advanced capabilities, which is essential to the monitoring and treatment of patients.

Inpatient care

The CHEO PICU provides care to critically ill and technologically-dependent infants, children and youth in Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec and the Baffin Region of Nunavut. We serve a mixed medical, surgical, cardiovascular surgical and trauma population. We also provide physician coverage to the CHEO medical emergency team (called the SPOT team) and provide support to referring physicians through the extramural critical care response team service. We also provide continuous renal replacement therapy (CCRT) and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy.


The PICU has a strong research program with a number of faculty involved in ongoing research projects. The diversity of the group leads to a wide variety of research interests.

Areas of research include, but are not limited to steroid in critical illness, vitamin D, quality and patient safety, outreach team and SPOT, simulation, children with heart disease, transport, and ethics and organ donation

In addition to the PICU faculty, there are numerous opportunities for research projects and collaboration in both clinical and basic science areas via uOttawa and the CHEO Research Institute.


Training programs

Undergraduate training opportunities

We offer two to four week elective opportunities for final year medical students to rotate through our intensive care unit. Pre-requisites include acceptable academic standing at the student's current medical institution and successful completion of a third-year pediatric clerkship.

The rotation emphasizes patient-based learning, with the student taking primary responsibility for one or two patients and using those patients’ illnesses as a jumping off point for learning that combines both didactic and self-directed study.

Postgraduate training program

The Pediatric Critical Care Program is an accredited training program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Our goal is to prepare our fellows to assume leadership roles in pediatric critical care in academic institutions. Trainees include highly qualified candidates who have already completed three years of accredited base specialty training. Upon completion of this two-year program, candidates will be eligible for certification in Pediatric Critical Care by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. For graduates from outside Canada, the clinical fellowship is intended as post-certification training.

Trainees are mentored and trained full-time by the multi-disciplinary faculty of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care. The two-year training program includes at least 13 critical care rotations and mandatory rotations in palliative care and anesthesia. Our program also supports a mandatory one-month elective in a critical care unit that performs transplantation.

Protected academic time is scheduled to meet Royal College objectives. This includes “boot camp” education days, morbidity/mortality rounds, communication workshops, subspecialty fellow retreats, simulation activities and many more. Over the two-year training period, residents will be exposed to the core concepts of critical care medicine. All trainees are encouraged to participate in clinical conferences, multi-disciplinary rounds and weekly meetings of other subspecialty services (e.g. cardiology, cardiovascular surgery).

Trainees will also be expected to pursue a research project under the mentorship of one of the research faculty members. Our program places a strong emphasis on research activities and allows for significant time and mentorship to assist trainees in achieving research success. Residents are also supported and encouraged to be active participants in clinical conferences.

Additional postgraduate training

The Pediatric Critical Care Medicine program offers the opportunity for one-year research fellowships to qualified candidates who have already completed their base pediatric critical care specialty training. Research opportunities are numerous and the year will be tailored to the individual’s career goals. Interested applicants should contact the program director.

As part of the general pediatric residency program, pediatric residents rotate through the PICU for a minimum of two (four-week) blocks. To enhance this educational experience, our faculty and fellows provide formal didactic teaching on pertinent critical care topics to the pediatric residents during their academic half-day series each year. 

As residents progress throughout their rotations, they will experience an increasing confidence in their ability to recognize and stabilize a critically ill child.

Residents from other specialty training programs also rotate through the PICU at some stage in their training. This applies especially to residents in Pediatric and Adult Emergency Medicine, where critical care experience is required. Their experience is tailored to their individual experience levels, but their membership on the pediatric teams is particularly welcome because of the perspective they bring from working with a different set of patients.