We have just celebrated our 25th anniversary, a happy coming-of-age that normally would have been marked by a large cake, a party with some warm white wine and perhaps streamers and balloons at our annual conference. This year, with remote working still in full swing, we decided that we’d ask members to share with us memories of cases that have stayed with them and they’ve proved illuminating.
Dr Chris Bidder, a paediatrician working in Swansea, shared one of his memories working as a senior paediatric registrar, having to make a difficult diagnosis for a young patient overnight. 'From day one in medical school, we are taught the importance of history taking. “Just listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”, said William Osler.’
Growing our work on equality, diversity and inclusion
His reflections made me think about how the College listens to others, and how that might help us understand and identify the problems we face as a body. I don’t think I’ve seen this exemplified anywhere more clearly in the past few years than in the great effort that has been led by our members and volunteers to tackle the issue of inequality. In March this year, we published Working for Change as ‘Phase 2’ of our equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work, which sets out what we need to do in paediatrics. Many of the problems we face are entrenched and we see them early in medical careers.
It would be foolish – and insulting – to suggest that there are quick fixes. But I so admire our many members and volunteers who have contributed at all the meetings and debates to help us reach the point where we now have a plan to tackle the obstacles, across four different areas of life, with firm targets in Working for Change on which we will be held to account.
We have been able to achieve many of the actions set whilst setting out our broader vision for EDI at the College
Voluntary roles at the College – One Year On
It was around this time last year that the initial 'Phase 1' of our EDI programme launched, focusing on where and how we as a College should take action to improve participation and diversity in our voluntary roles. I promised then that I would update you on the progress made on the ambitions and many actions set and today, I’m pleased today that we have published our One Year On report.
Reflecting on what has been achieved over the past twelve months is broadly positive; we have been able to achieve many of the actions set whilst setting out our broader vision for EDI at the College. There are some areas we need to do more and we continue to keep them in focus, especially as our data collection improves.
As part of our ongoing commitment to transparency, in early 2022 we will also be moving to yearly reporting on all our Phase 1 and 2 EDI work.
Restoring our exams internationally
As we come out of lockdown and into an uncertain summer, the restoration of examinations abroad is critical for many of our members.
In May we ran our first international examinations since the start of the pandemic in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. All of them were in the form of a modified in-person circuit in order to keep both candidates and children safe. Essentially, this involves removing the patient stations (too high risk with COVID-19) and using the modified role player stations in their place.
Further exams for the Far East have been scheduled for October and we will run a tranche of exams in the Middle East over the next few months, working closely with many colleagues in these countries. Importantly, we carry out connectivity trials for overseas candidates to test their connections in advance of the first online international examination. No one wants an internet glitch on the day. All of this activity involves a very considerable amount of work from the Exams team with our many volunteers in the UK and abroad, and please bear with us while we work to test and modify and help candidates through this process.
Our forthcoming College strategy
Like many organisations, we’ve been giving much thought to where we as a College want to concentrate our future priorities in the work we do. Our Council has been formulating a new strategy for the College – an exciting, forwarding-facing vision, which sets out how we want to continue to work to improve health outcomes for children and young people over the next three years.
...supporting innovation and development of digital skills, ensuring that the College and its activities are accessible to all levels and all specialties...
How do we do this? Through supporting innovation and development of digital skills, ensuring that the College and its activities are accessible to all levels and all specialties, that we continue to deliver professional paediatric exams and training in the UK and abroad. Above all, that we act on the perspective of children and young people, putting them at the heart of everything we do.
We will be publishing the plan this September and we’ll be asking you for your feedback and thoughts in the coming months. And, we hope it’s a plan that can be used within your groups and communities to make the case for childrens' voices and needs to be understood.
I wish you all a good rest of July. I hope the heat subsides for us and that you enjoy a decent break after such a challenging few months.
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