It’s amazing how infectious enthusiasm and kindness is! I’ve had two remarkable experiences since last writing to you that have given me a spring in my step.
Cardiff Fellowship and Membership Ceremony
I was delighted to welcome 265 new College Fellows and Members at our September membership ceremony in Cardiff. It was quite literally a day of unadulterated joy! Many candidates had travelled from as far as India, the Middle East and West Africa to receive their certificate and be formally welcomed into the College – and many brought whole extended families to join – simply wonderful.
Our College staff always go to immense efforts to make sure everyone is looked after and can also be found playing with small children at the back of the hall to allow their parents time for photos and a chance to celebrate. Over coffee or champagne after the ceremony, there is always time for lots of photographs and chat and this is always the best part for me!
As I left Cardiff on the train after the event, my mind was buzzing with the energy and excitement so many paediatricians had come to share and I reminded myself, once again, why our specialty really does seem to attract truly remarkable doctors and how proud I am to call myself a member too.
Trip to Nepal
My second remarkable experience was a five-day trip to Nepal with the College Global team. Coincidently, the MRCPCH Clinical exam was taking place on 29 and 30 September, meaning I could see the seamless management of a very complex exercise with candidates from around Asia and the Middle East. Under the baton of Dr Mithilesh Lal, Principal Regional Examiner for South Asia (India and Nepal) I was also introduced to a number of children from around Kathmandu and beyond. There was complete calm and professionalism when I popped in to look around the OSCE centre and I was so impressed by the meticulous amount of organisation in what was only the second time the MRCPCH Clinical has taken place in Nepal.
The chief purpose for the visit was to join the Nepal Paediatric Association (NEPAS) for a day of stakeholder engagement. The RCPCH-NEPAS programme in Madhesh Pradesh, a province in the south east of the country, is focussing on improving care in secondary care hospitals. Nepal has made extraordinary strides in reducing neonatal mortality, but as with so many parts of the world, that pace of improvement has stalled.
The RCPCH-NEPAS programme is directed at shifting the dial on quality of care through close partnership working informed by data and QI methodology. It was such a pleasure to meet the senior team of paediatricians leading NEPAS, with their president Dr Arun Neopane. We had some great discussions with colleagues from UNICEF and also the Nepali Ministry of Health and Population, with some excellent check and challenge on what the next steps need to be.
My personal highlight was a guided tour of the Neonatal Unit in the big public maternity hospital in Kathmandu. They have around 23,000 deliveries annually – that’s more than double our busiest maternity services in the UK! Professor Kalpana Subedi is the Clinical Director and her calm, firm and kind leadership skills just sang out as we walked through the huge Neonatal Unit which includes one of the biggest Human Milk Banks that I have seen. The staff of just a few nurses and junior doctors were carrying out a myriad of duties but there was absolute calm and a deep sense of camaraderie. It was such a privilege to see what can be achieved even when the task is enormous and staffing is perilous. Massive kudos to the extraordinary Professor Subedi!
#ChoosePaediatrics wins national award
I am absolutely thrilled that the #ChoosePaediatrics programme has recently been honoured with the prestigious “Memcom Award for its outstanding Membership or Recruitment Strategy”. This accolade reflects the significant impact the programme has made in recruiting and supporting paediatricians of the future. Coinciding with the two-year anniversary of its launch on 6 October 2021, the award serves as a testament to the programme's success. Over the past two years, it has positively impacted the recruitment landscape in paediatrics and fostered a vibrant community of paediatricians – a real bonhomie.
Huge congratulations go to members of the Careers Promotion Working Group, a group set up by RCPCH staff to support the programme, and also Dr Simon Broughton, RCPCH Officer for Recruitment, and Dr Blanche Lumb, Trainee Representative for Recruitment, for the hard work and ongoing contributions.
2023 UK recruitment update
As a perfect follow on to the #ChoosePaediatrics success story, it has been another good year for recruitment across the UK, with application numbers very high for all levels and fill rates accordingly so in National Round 1 (ST1) and Round 2 (ST3 & ST4). Pleasingly, there has been a big increase in post numbers in several regions, as part of the adaptation to Progress+.
In order to allow regions some more flexibility and to maximise recruitment, we have introduced paediatrics to National Round 3 (R3). This will be for February/March starters at ST3 level. This allows regional teams to see if they have fillable gaps once they know how many trainees will be joining in August/September, with a particular view of opportunities for additional recruitment where there are a lot of new trainees coming in working less than full time. I think this is extremely positive and means we can maximise as much of our training capacity nationally as possible.
New Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan
If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to take a look at the new strategic plan for our work on Equality and Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), published last week. Over the last three years our EDI work has seen us achieve several objectives from the 'putting ladders down' and 'working for change' programmes of work. As we enter the next phase of our EDI strategy, our plan for 2023/24 outlines four new themes and a set of actions which focus on 'making EDI everybody's business'.
I am really proud of our work on EDI to date, and, as with all our work on this topic, we remain very grateful to our dedicated EDI member reference group, who have been instrumental once again in shaping this next phase. From Monday 16 October we will have some new opportunities available to join task and finish groups to support our new activities, so I’d encourage you to keep an eye on our volunteering opportunities page if you are interested in getting involved.
Look out for our member survey
In the next few weeks we will be sending out our annual member survey. This is your opportunity to tell us how you think we are doing and what you need from us, as well as the opportunities and challenges in your working lives. Only with your feedback can we make sure we are doing this right, for you, your colleagues, and for children and young people - so do keep an eye on emails!
Submit your work for RCPCH Conference 2024
Finally - as we look forward to next year’s much-anticipated RCPCH Conference, I urge you to consider submitting an abstract to present at our flagship event. Under the theme ’Building a bright future together’, you can be a vital part of an event where innovation, collaboration and the pursuit of a bright future take centre stage! Find out how you can be involved.
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