2021 marked a big milestone for me: 21 years as an NHS doctor and 11 of those years as a General Paediatric Consultant. I can honestly say I have had no regrets in my career choice. Every job will, of course, have its own specific challenges and downsides. Being a paediatrician in the NHS has not been a completely stress-free or easy ride, particularly over the last few years, but I want to focus on the positives.
People that know me know that I love a good list (especially ones with fully coloured squares), so here we go: “My top 5 reasons why I enjoy going to work”.
1. The children/young people and families we work with
Kids are fun, fact. They are the reason we are all here (also possibly a cliché but one I believe to be true). My particular favourite group of patients to work with are young people (in other parlance, “adolescents”/”zoomers”/“people who understand TikTok”). An often misunderstood group (not just in music taste) that sometimes have a bad rep, but for me easily the best age group to work with.
It is very satisfying to help support young people negotiate health services and work with them to create positive change to their health and wellbeing. For those wanting to learn more, check out the recently updated Adolescent Health Programme eLearning for healthcare as it’s jam packed with resources to help you become more confident in working with this population of patients.
2. The multi-professional world of paediatrics
Paediatrics is truly a holistic speciality. You need to focus on not only the child and their illness, but the family and all the other parts of that child’s life, such as school.
This means that you get to work with a lot of different professionals, both medical and non-medical, all with the common goal of helping a child or young person. Bringing in the expertise of all these professionals really enhances the care that children, young people and their families receive.
3. My colleagues
I am really fortunate to work with a great bunch of paediatricians and a fantastic group of nurses, managers, allied health professionals (AHPs), administrators, cleaners and many more. We support each other through the good times and the bad. As a group we like to celebrate all things positive - especially birthdays as these involve cake!
Through my various different roles at the RCPCH I have also had the pleasure of working with the College staff and paediatricians nationally/internationally. Who, I am sure, also appreciate cake.
4. The diversity that is general paediatrics
Yes, I am biased, but general paediatrics is the best sub-specialty out there! As a generalist we get to see a huge variety of children and young people with a wide array of conditions, ages and needs. From babies to young people – there is something for everyone and you never get bored.
Being a General Paediatrician you get to do a bit of everything, and you have the support of your specialist colleagues if you don’t know the answer. Very handy!
5. Other opportunities
There is a lot going on in the world of paediatrics and child health, locally, nationally and internationally. And something for all. During my 21 years I have had various roles at the College and London School of Paediatrics from school trainee committee member, via START (Specialty Trainee Assessment for Readiness of Tenure) and on the RCPCH Training Quality Board.
I am currently Convenor of the YPHSIG (Young Person’s Health Special Interest Group). I'm part of the editorial team of Milestones, the College’s magazine, which has enabled me to interact more with paediatricians right across the country (and have my say on what we see next on Ash’s Baking School!). More locally I have been RCPCH College Tutor, Clinical Lead and co-lead on KAOS (our Adolescent Outreach service).
Take opportunities to get involved. It makes going to work even more enjoyable and you’ll make lifelong friends along the way!
Dr Hannah Baynes is a General Paediatrician, based in London. @hlb27