If you care how paediatricians are trained, this is the role for you

David Evans looks back at a rewarding - and fun - five years as Vice President for Training and Assessment, and explains what he's enjoyed, what's been unexpected and why the next postholder will never be bored.
David as the Grinch at RCPCH Christmas Cracker 2020

Forget President, this is the post for you! If you care how paediatricians are trained, in this VP role you can make a real difference to the lives of trainees and, ultimately, the children for whom they care and the teams in which they work.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the last five years; it has been hugely rewarding. It is for you to judge whether I have made a difference but I can tell you that it has been so much fun!

Why did I do it?

I was reading Camilla’s blog [about the VP for Education and Professional Development role] and was interested to see Simon Newell had encouraged her to get involved with the College. My experience was very similar. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I think Simon has been responsible for many of us getting involved; he was a true RCPCH enthusiast.

I wanted to make paediatric training more humane, more individualised and more authentic to real-life needs.

What have you enjoyed the most?

Working with the staff at the RCPCH

I have always found that paediatricians lack pretension, pomposity or portentousness; children are immune to that nonsense. Paediatricians are willing to go the extra mile for their patients and perhaps this either rubs off on the RCPCH staff or prospective workers self-select to thrive with the similar-minded.

There are too many to name and too many goodbyes to come. They have varied experience and expertise, they always appreciate that clinicians are giving up their time and they are keen to help. They are problem-solvers and innovators. I have got to know many personally, and recently their spare rooms, kitchens, hallways, dining rooms and attics, too!

Working with trainees

The Trainees' Committee are a real powerhouse and an incubator of ideas, enthusiasm and energy. Their chosen WhatApps group name is, apparently, the Politburo, which is a little unkind I feel – but shows their self-irony and self-deprecating humour. Always challenging conservatism, they nevertheless understand the constraints we all work within and have been a great source of strength to me.

Working with those who train others

There are so many good teachers out there. You get to work with tutors, heads of schools, specialty CSAC groups, the Children & Young People's Engagement team - plus those outside the RCPCH, such as the GMC, statutory education bodies, AoMRC, etc. Each has their own remit and agenda, and it is fascinating to work out how you can harness this to meet the needs of our trainees.

What did you not expect when you started?

There is so much to do beyond training and you can get involved in many other aspects of RCPCH work, from being a Council and Executive Committee member to helping with policy, media and other initiatives. You can choose the extent of your involvement but you will never be bored.

Do I need to be an educationalist or an examiner or a head of school?

Good grief, no! You need common sense, a clear vision for paediatric training and the ability to convince others that paediatric training is the most important thing they need to consider if they have any concern about the future health of the nation.

There’s plenty of support from the College and colleagues so don’t worry about knowing everything. We’d like to see a really diverse set of applicants come forward - so my final advice, if you are tempted, do it.