A pleasure to judge this year's prize on medical students' and foundation doctors' reflections

Dr Blanche Lumb has a passion for finding paediatricians of the future, and so is in her perfect role as the new RCPCH Trainee Representative for Recruitment. She reports back from her time at June's annual conference, and reminds aspiring paediatricians of our annual prizes.
Dr Blanche Lumb

I am just finishing a leadership fellowship - it's been a crash course in management in the NHS - and about to return to specialty doctor job in paediatric oncology, the sub-specialty I want to pursue. The fellowship has taught me a lot about recruitment and retention, and that's helping me settle into my new role as Trainee Representative for Recruitment. But, more than anything, I have a real passion for finding paediatricians of the future and developing a sustainable workforce.

So it was my great pleasure, as one of the first jobs in my new role, to attend RCPCH Conference in June to support the UK Aspiring Paediatricians Society's fantastic work in promoting paediatrics, and to be one of the judges on our Tony Jackson Memorial Prize.

That prize awards medical students or foundation doctors in the UK for an outstanding personal reflection on any aspect of paediatrics. The entries this year included reflections on difficult cases, practice abroad, unique research and ways to improve patient care. The standard was extremely high, and some of the reflections so moving... so it was very difficult to shortlist!

We had two finalists - both were medical students - and as required, they gave a 15-minute presentation on their reflection followed by a Q&A. Each was excellent, answering some very tricky questions with confidence. It was a closely fought race.

But this year’s winner is well-deserved: Sharon Darkwa for her reflection, All paediatricians are poor: redefining my view of person-centred care in a middle-income countrySharon's piece was about her own elective abroad, and was a great insight to paediatrics and its challenges outside the UK. It was an absolute pleasure to be a judge of the Tony Jackson Memorial Prize, and see the wide range of paediatric experience students and foundation year doctors are involved in. 

Every student and doctor I met was excited and interested in paediatrics and were full of questions about paediatrics as both a future job and a career

My other highlight from Conference was meeting almost all of the medical student and foundation doctor prize winners across the three days. Each student and doctor I met was excited and interested in paediatrics and full of questions about the specialty as both a future job and a career. It was a delight to be able to talk - at too much length for some, I am sure! - about its joys and challenges, and how it is uniquely rewarding.

Alongside senior clinicians and the College team, I gave advice about applications and career pathways, especially with the new flexibility of Progress+ and opportunities for Out of Programme time throughout training. From these conversations, it is clear that the future of paediatrics is bright. I look forward to using my time as Trainee Rep for Recruitment to meet more aspiring paediatricians and support them with their careers. 

So, what are you waiting for? Take a look at the details for our three prizes for aspiring paediatricians - medical student prize, foundation doctor prize and Tony Jackson Memorial Prize. Applications for 2023 open this October, so check back soon or follow the College on Twitter at @RCPCH_trainees, Facebook or Instagram to get the updates!

Dr Blanche Lumb is an ST5 Trainee currently Out Of Programme based in Cardiff.