A rewarding career in paediatrics

In celebration of International Women's Day 2022, we reached out to Dr Ngozi Edi-Osagie, consultant paediatrician and RCPCH Officer for Genomics, to share her thoughts about working in paediatrics and neonatology research.
Dr Ngozi Edi-Osagie

Our President, Dr Camilla Kingdon, highlighted the importance of a diversity of voices in the sciences and how all of us can #BreakTheBias like our guest blogger, Dr Ngozi Edi-Osagie. 

What drew you to a career in paediatrics?

An inspirational registrar, children who made [me] smile as they transitioned from being unwell to getting better and the ability to make a lifelong impact on babies born at the margins of viability. One thing I miss by being a neonatologist is the interaction with young children, especially between the ages of “talking and teenage-ing”. I love their honesty, their sense of adventure and fun.

Most paediatricians will be able to recall patients who made them laugh so much that you felt incredibly lucky to have such a rewarding career. It makes up for times when you’ve had to deal with situations  when your patients don’t survive, something that you never really get used as a paediatrician.

Why is research in the area of neonatology so important?

Research is the lifeblood of most areas of paediatrics and neonatology is no different. During my career I have been fortunate enough to have taken part in clinical trials that are now standard practice. I recall the hopelessness of feeling like you were just standing by when patients were born with Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy , providing them with supportive care and hoping for the best. Then a few years into my practice recruiting patients to the TOBY (Total Body Cooling) trial resulting in therapy which is also now standard practice.

Recently, I’ve been involved in the Pharmacogenetics to Avoid Loss of Hearing PALOH trial where testing for the gene that causes gentamycin induced hearing loss will help prevent deafness in newborns. The relative simplicity of this test and the impact it has in preventing deafness is really exciting. It is excellent example of the way we can use genetics to have an immediate clinical impact. It is the first genetic point of care test in neonates and as the RCPCH officer for genomics it is perhaps unsurprising that I find this particularly interesting and can’t wait to see how genome sequencing impacts our clinical practice in the future.

With lots of self-belief and hard work, a rewarding career in paediatrics awaits you.   

What advice do you have for young women from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds who are considering a career in paediatrics? 

There are many young women from all backgrounds that have been put off from achieving their goals and aspirations (including a younger me!). However, if you are black or Asian this is even more likely to be the case, as you may have been on the receiving end of both gender and race bias. It’s teachers not believing you are capable of achieving the required grades for medical school, or not having access to information to ensure you get appropriate career advice to set you on the path to becoming a paediatrician.

However paediatrics is a specialty that embraces diversity and welcomes people from all backgrounds. If you are reading this and thinking “I’d love to be a paediatrician,” you’re a step closer to your goal. The RCPCH has amazing resources that can guide you and can also provide access to paediatricians who are willing to be mentors. With lots of self-belief and hard work, a rewarding career in paediatrics awaits you.


 

Dr Edi-Osagie is the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) Officer for Genomics and Group Associate Medical Director, Clinical Head of Division and Consultant Neonatologist at Manchester University NHS FT.