Developing your dream career journey of the future

Dr Judith Van der Voort discusses what we’re doing to support your future working lives as part of our ambitious Paediatrics 2040 project.

Update Paediatrics 2040 was launched in March 2021 - see our microsite

I’ve been asked to write a blog, looking back at what we’ve been up to in the Paediatrics 2040 Working Lives group over the last year, but I do feel slightly sheepish… there is not that much to reflect! Yet this is a new year and we have started with renewed energy, and I wanted to share what we’ve got planned and how you can get involved.

Learning from the present

Last year we invited our subgroup members and formed our consultative group. It is inspiring to see the enthusiasm and skill mix of those who have agreed to volunteer, ranging from medical students with an interest in paediatrics to retired paediatricians.

We met at the RCPCH Conference last May and chatted, discussed and decided on a little task to get a flavour of our thinking on how paediatricians’ working lives might look like in 20 years. We asked ourselves the following questions:

  1. What is not working for us doctors at present?
  2. What should be preserved, what is important and should not be changed?
  3. What would we want in 20 years’ time?

Answers were varied and made very interesting reading! The ideas and suggestions have fed into the next phase of our work, dividing paediatric working lives into three areas:

  • Training 
  • Wellbeing
  • Workforce

Daring to dream about the future

One thing we know is that a training pathway will need to include a lot of emphasis on enjoyment

Training will change and adapt continuously, and we will be considering how the future paediatrician will learn to be prepared for evolving technologies: we will need new skills in genomics and ethics and we will need leadership skills in how to implement innovation around a governance structure.

One thing we know for sure is that having a successful training pathway will need to include a lot of emphasis on enjoyment within paediatrics. Wellbeing will continue to be central to the working lives of paediatricians in 2040, and it will be central to our endeavours. We will use data collected by other subgroups, our own literature searches and analyses and our own imagination. 

Will we be spending less time with patients - perhaps as ‘desk-top’ clinicians working remotely? Or will we renew closer contact with our patients by spending more time at the bedside and in clinic? 

Our future jobs will not be just in one place. Will we join GPs in primary care, or have virtual clinics with patients all over the region? Will we be doing the same job over a career that can be 40 years long, or will we work even longer? How will our roles change as we grow older? How will our ability and willingness to do night work change? Who will we be working with? And how will the RCPCH best help and support its members in 20 years?

From my perspective, this exercise is both an academic pursuit into the future, researching and modelling existing information, and a mind-exercise of trying to imagine what life and work will look like in 20 years.

What next?

I hope you will join us on this journey. We will no doubt get some of this this wrong, but probably also some of it right: it is quite a nice, new challenge, different from our usual day to day problem solving. Your ideas are very welcome, and we invite all of you to join in and share your thoughts. We’ll be running a workshop at the RCPCH Conference and exhibition in Liverpool on Tuesday 28 April and hope to see many of you there.

I thank those who have been more than willing to give up their time so far and I look forward to communally making a jump into our future and finding out what it might look like!

Tell us what you want to see in 20 years time - take our survey [survey closed on 1 March]