Working together on a conference for foundation doctors - well supported / MDT

In late September, FY2 doctor Darakhshan Razzaq helped organise the first paediatric conference for foundation doctors. She and her fellow aspiring paediatricians came together to build a programme for the online event, with speakers from across the country sharing their insights. Here she reflects on this month's #ChoosePaediatrics theme of being well supported and working with a multidisciplinary team (MDT).
Darakhshan Razzaq

The idea came after attending medical school paediatric conferences. I realised there were few events that catered specifically to the needs of foundation doctors.

As a result, a group of aspiring paediatricians from across the UK met to design the first paediatric conference for foundation doctors only. We knew exactly what we wanted to cover: talks from current trainees and consultants brimming with enthusiasm for their jobs, tips on how to apply, the application process, interviews, examinations and how to sell ourselves for the role. Which was just what we got.

Such a wealth of experience and knowledge in one place was really inspiring

Sponsored by TeachMePaediatrics, Messly and RCPCH, we were able to produce our virtual conference (on Zoom) with inspiring speakers from a diverse range of trusts and backgrounds. The morning sessions had general information about paediatrics as a career, including the many roads to get there, the application process for specialty training, and tips for the interviews and competitive deaneries. Over the lunch break there was a poster competition, showcasing some of the current foundation trainees' work. The afternoon had divided streams to give tasters for various specialties such as neonates to cardiology, endocrine to allergy, respiratory to gastroenterology. Such a wealth of experience and knowledge in one place was really inspiring.

We also wanted to give aspiring trainees information to help plan their careers. So we included topics such as flexibility in training paths, how to take an 'FY3' year, work-life balance and less than full time training. For me, what stood me from all the speakers was passion and enthusiasm for what they do, dedication to evidence-based practice and overwhelming support for junior and aspiring paediatricians.

Our organising committee's WhatsApp group buzzed with messages throughout the day about how lovely and approachable the speakers were and how interesting all the talks were. As moderators, we couldn’t attend all of the talks, so I’m looking forward to seeing what I missed from the available video recordings and am now going back over all of those tips as I work on my own application.

We got many, many comments about how it was nice to have something specifically aimed at foundation doctors

The conference attracted more than 250 sign-ups, and great turnout on the day. We got excellent feedback from both attendees and speakers about our event organisation, and that they really enjoyed it. And, many, many comments about how it was nice to have something specifically aimed at foundation doctors who are thinking about applying to paediatrics. We also received a great response to the conference mix of inspiring speakers and information about the practicalities of applying and options on career paths. The timing of the conference day was also appreciated - close enough to the application window to be relevant but not so close that it feels too late to make a good application.

We are intending to make this an annual event. Building on suggestions about topics and organisation of the day, we're already planning next year’s event to be bigger, brighter and better informed. We’re getting our training wheels off in terms of conference organisation - there’s no stopping us now! If you’d like to be involved as a speaker or committee member, please follow us on Twitter at @thepaedsFYconf, and look out for updates in the RCPCH newsletter to medical students and foundation doctors.* The more people, the merrier.

#ChoosePaediatrics - find out more

Dr Darakhshan Razzaq, FY2 Doctor in Northampton.The Paediatric Foundation Conference is on Twitter @thepaedsFYconf.