Paediatrics is hard work but rewarding: I’ve never looked back

Kunal Babla, ST6 in neonatology at the London School of Paediatrics, explains why he loves working in a specialty that is intense and challenging, but flexible, open-minded and... fun!

Why did you pick paediatrics?

Paediatrics is the most diverse, interesting and varied acute specialty. It is one of the few truly generalist specialties that remain in modern healthcare. I love that every child is different – whether it’s their personalities, stage of development, family background or healthcare needs, they all need a unique approach to their care and development.

The joy and happiness these children bring to their families... makes it possible for me to work in such a demanding and intense environment

My subspecialty interest is in neonatal intensive care – this has its own challenges that range from managing a term baby’s newborn jaundice and reassuring first time parents that their child is well to making split-second decisions in managing a 500g preterm infant in the most high-tech of environments. I’m excited to be part of a relatively new specialty that truly works on the edge of what is possible and seeing applied physiology in action. Neonatal intensive care lends itself to people who enjoy procedures - there are always plenty of peripheral and central lines, scans, chest drains or intubations to be done, and there's a real feeling of achievement when you learn and master a new skill, especially when the patients seem to get ever smaller and more complex! The joy and happiness these children bring to their families, regardless of the challenges they may face makes it possible for me to work in such a demanding and intense environment.

What have you done outside of your standard training?

Paediatrics truly is a flexible and open-minded specialty. I’ve been involved in a number of projects, ranging from research into heart conditions in preterm infants, to improving simulation training in Paediatric emergencies. I have taken opportunities to take time out of my training to work in paediatric intensive care, and spending a year as an Education Fellow.

I have completed an MSc in Advanced Paediatrics and learned more about the importance of leadership and management systems in the NHS, as well as spending time learning more about the latest advances in neonatal medicine.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in paediatrics?

Come and spend some time with paediatricians and trainees. You’ll find teams of highly motivated, friendly and genuinely happy clinicians who love their jobs, even in the midst of a health service facing huge challenges. Coming to work and laughing every day makes a huge difference to you, your colleagues and most importantly, children and their families.Paediatricians work hard to maintain a close-knit team ethic, and are incredibly supportive of all involved in the care of children.

Paediatrics is hard work, intense, challenging, fun and rewarding. Once I started, I’ve never looked back.