It’s a complicated world of work and issues like work-life balance also need to be considered as decisions are made about one's specialty. To help our specialty of paediatrics be at the top of the list of great choices for specialty training, we have to compete with many other specialities that all have their own good points with regard to training and work life balance.
In the last five years, we have seen a decline of 30% in the number of junior doctors applying for paediatric training. Along with retention, recruitment of paediatric trainees is therefore one of the biggest issues we currently face in paediatrics.
We need to think about what we can do individually in our day-to-day work, to inspire the potential paediatricians of the future and help make the most of those first, often brief experiences of paediatrics. Share your stories about why you love paediatrics and help inspire the next generation of paediatricians.
...open the doors to your workplace
Medical students and foundation doctors tell us they generally experience only a brief time in paediatrics during their training and at a relatively late stage, when many have already started to make career choices. We know that for those who do experience paediatrics, it can be the start of a life-long passion for our fantastic specialty.
While the RCPCH is campaigning at a national level for more exposure to paediatrics for these groups and at an earlier stage within training, there are things that you can do as individuals and in your teams at work to open the doors to your workplace.
1. Engage medical students in your hospital
Seeing your enthusiasm and how much fun you have with children and young people is the best advert for paediatrics.
If you can give them the opportunity to spend some time shadowing the team or helping out with an audit, QI or research project, it is a great way for students to experience our specialty, particularly if the chances they get from their schools are limited. They will see potential role models and are likely to be inspired.
2. Represent your specialty at a careers event
Why not volunteer to promote paediatrics at a local careers fair? Universities, Trusts and hospitals run a host of events aimed at medical students and foundation doctors – find out what’s on locally and get involved directly or contact the College and help us create a network of paediatricians who can help represent paediatrics to those looking to choose their own career path in medicine.
If you want to be involved in this area contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Engage with your local undergraduate societies
There are some brilliant, student-led paediatric societies across the UK, organising events and helping to spread their enthusiasm for paediatrics to their peers and would love to have you speak at their annual conference, for example.
We would also urge you to become familiar with the United Kingdom Aspiring Paediatricians Society (UKAPS), a group that the College work closely with to promote paediatrics to growing network of students and foundation doctors with an interest in our specialty. Visit the UKAPS website, or see their list of paediatric societies - and spread the word.
4. Facilitate taster weeks
Most foundation doctors will not do a paediatric job, but many want to. See if you can organise keen foundation doctors in your hospital to spend a few days in your department to get a flavour of what paediatrics is like. With the increasing amount of junior doctors taking F3/F4 years to get some extra experience before committing to their specialty of choice, don’t forget to engage this growing group as well.
To reach out to the Foundation trainees in your trust, contact the Director of Medical Education, they will probably have organised local career fairs as well.
5. Get involved in foundation doctor teaching locally
All foundation doctors have compulsory teaching sessions, so why not email the postgraduate teaching organiser and do a child health session? Spotting the Sick Child makes a good intro session and is applicable to other settings like GP and Emergency medicine.
6. Volunteer to host a paediatrics careers day yourself
The RCPCH staff and Trainees Committee can support you with content and resources, such as the template for our successful series of Careers in Paediatrics days and want to know what else we can provide you with to promote our specialty in your area and build up a proper toolkit for anyone to dip into.
Contact us if you are interested in running an event and let us know what else you need at email@example.com.
7. Make a special effort to mentor F3 paediatric doctors
We know that over 50% of Foundation doctors don’t go straight into specialty training. Many of them take up F3 and even F4 posts. If you are lucky enough to have one of these doctors in your department, try and make a concerted effort to offer them careers support and mentorship. They may be considering Paediatrics as a specialty choice - so it’s a perfect opportunity to encourage them.
8. Join the online conversation at #ChoosePaediatrics
The current campaign is being shared across a variety of social media platforms and the RCPCH webpages contain a breadth of information about careers in paediatrics and how to get into the specialty.
Follow #ChoosePaediatrics and spread the word about the information and resources we have to share.
Never underestimate the power of the “corridor conversation” or the chat over a coffee. Don’t feel you need any special skills. Nothing is more compelling than witnessing genuine enthusiasm and joy at work.
So let’s share why we love what we are doing, with students and junior doctors who are curious about paediatrics and help them find out all they need to know to make their career decision. You can help show them all what a great career paediatrics has to offer!