"Exciting and personally rewarding" - VP for Education & Professional Development opportunity

As Camilla prepares to leave this role to become RCPCH President this spring, she looks back at some highlights - from a buzzing virtual conference to investment in paediatric recruitment - and encourages her fellow paediatricians to consider this important role.

I have had the best fun and experienced amazing personal and professional development in the two and a half years I have been RCPCH Vice President for Education and Professional Development. If it wasn’t for the fact that I am moving on to an even more exciting opportunity as President, I would be writing this with a huge sense of nostalgia and even sadness. Let me explain why I think this is a really important opportunity that I would encourage paediatricians to consider carefully.  

Many years ago, I was involved in helping set up the START assessment (Specialty Training Assessment of Readiness for Tenure). Simon Newell was Vice President for Training and Assessment and I remember feeling nervous that I would not have much to contribute. A dinner was held during a two-day START event and I found myself sitting next to Simon. His warmth and genuine interest in me, my work and my ideas was quite unlike anything I was expecting and I remember thinking, “If this is what RCPCH is about, I would really love to get more involved!”

I get to meet a wide range of really interesting and inspiring colleagues.... an opportunity that would not happen if I simply focussed on working at my trust

Since then, I became more involved at the College in a variety of ways, and my first impressions inspired by Simon continue to be reinforced. I consistently find that whatever work I do at the College, I get to meet a wide range of really interesting and inspiring colleagues from around the country – an opportunity that would not happen if I simply focussed on working at my trust. I also find that I am supported by College staff who are, without exception, people who are highly skilled and motivated to support us clinicians as positively and proactively as possible.

There are four Vice Presidents at RCPCH and, along with the President, Registrar and Treasurer, they form the Senior Officer team. I have been incredibly lucky to work with brilliantly supportive and interesting colleagues and I have learnt so much from all of them. As a neonatologist I have really enjoyed the chance to work closely with paediatricians from other sub-specialties and to see how people’s different skills and interests come together to form a very productive team under the President’s leadership. I started my Vice President role at the same time as Russell took over as President and I have benefitted hugely from his support, encouragement and leadership.

The VP for Education and Professional Development has a very wide portfolio of work that stretches from leading the College conferences to global child health to education programmes to careers and mentoring. It sounds massive but there are extremely well functioning and experienced College teams working in all these areas who are infinitely resourceful and supportive.

Camilla is interviewed by a young person at RCPCH Conference

I was secretly dreading the conferences, I have to confess, as I had never done that kind of work before. In fact, this part of my role has allowed me to develop the most. I got to organise our very successful 2019 conference in Birmingham which completely pushed me out of my comfort zone when I found myself sitting on a sofa on the stage in the auditorium being interviewed by a gutsy 11-year-old in front of the entire conference audience!

The 2020 conference started off feeling so disappointing because we had planned a brilliant programme to be held in Liverpool in April 2020 and then had to cancel it. In fact, the virtual conference had a massive international audience and a buzz that I never would have anticipated, with some sensational speakers and abstracts!

I have worked hard but the rewards have been incalculable...

Each Vice President can put their own personal “stamp” on their tenure, and I have chosen to focus on lifelong careers and retention in paediatrics. This happens to be an area of personal interest of mine, but it’s been very encouraging to see how supportive the College has been, and together we’ve bid for external funding and created a new Officer for Retention role which has given this work a huge impetus and energy. So, it is exciting and personally rewarding work.

I would thoroughly recommend considering this Vice President role – and I’d love to see a diverse range of applicants for it! For me, it has been career defining because it allowed me to develop the self-confidence and direction that ultimately meant I felt enabled to stand for President. I have worked hard but the rewards have been incalculable, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The College is seeking nominations for Vice President for Education and Professional Development, to start in July 2021. You can download the full role description and apply online.