Dr Kiran Raju, Foundation doctor
Keen to apply for the Paediatric training pathway?
Are you a foundation doctor? Think you want to pursue a career in Paediatrics but not sure where to start? I promise, many of us are in the same boat, with the sudden panic about portfolio building and applications creeping up on us. This article will explore a few different ideas to get you thinking about building up your Paediatric portfolio during foundation training.
You might be lucky and have a rotation in Paediatrics, but for those who don’t, fear not! Thankfully there is no penalty for not having a clinical rotation in Paediatrics as per RCPCH – hard to believe? I thought so too! There are lots of other ways to both explore and demonstrate your interest in this specialty through your foundation training years.
There are several ways to gain clinical exposure into the world of paediatrics. The following are some relatively easy to organise ways into this:
- Taster days in paediatrics, both on the wards and in clinic settings – these can be easily organised by emailing departmental contacts at your local children’s hospital/paediatric department
- Seeing paediatric patients in general care settings such as the emergency department and GP practice, and taking an active interest in their care. You can also see paediatric patients in a number of other settings including anaesthetics, surgery, ENT, CAMHS within psychiatry etc. In the specialty training application for Paediatrics, there are sections on ‘Transferrable Clinical skills’ and ‘Transferable Clinical experience’ which allow you to use these experiences and associate them with Paediatrics.
- More generally other ways of gaining transferable experience would include involvement in Ethical or Safeguarding discussions. These may take place in an adult setting which is fine as you can still show you have gained a better understanding about the topics and make an association with Paediatrics.
- Paediatric life support courses to gain skills in emergency management of scenarios in a paediatric setting
- Volunteering with a children’s charity to increase your interaction with a paediatric population, and of course contribute to a good cause while you are at it
A great way of maintaining a record of these experiences is by logging Case Base Discussions, DOPS or Mini CEXs on your e-portfolio, as well as reflecting on them in writing. I know it can be a chore, but it will be worth it when you’re scratching your head at application time trying to remember these experiences.
Research and academia are important aspects of the paediatric application scoring system, and there are several simple ways to bulk up your portfolio in this respect. Here are some ideas:
- Email your local paediatric department to ask about audit and QIP opportunities – it can be as simple as joining an existing audit (easy way out), or you may be able to lead one of your own with the support of a senior (bit more effort). Try and present your findings at departmental meetings, as well as poster presentations at conferences.
- Attending paediatric conferences is a good way to hear about up and coming topics and research in the field, to present your own research, as well as network with others interested in or already in the specialty.
- Writing articles for paediatric forums and newsletters including UKAPS and paediatric FOAMed is a good way to research topics of interest to you, as well as demonstrate that interest
- Giving one or more of the RCPCH exams a go during foundation years – this is not essential and won’t add points to your application (but does help get them out of the way!)
- Applying for RCPCH foundation award or any other paediatric essay/research prizes for the keen ones amongst you
Apart from demonstrating your interest and aptitude for the field, it is also important for you to focus on your exposure to it, and understand what the career involves. There are a number of ways to do this, including some of the following.
- Attending paediatric career talks – you may have attend loads of these, even slept through some during med school, but they definitely seem more interesting when applications are getting closer and closer…and closer
- Joining RCPCH as a junior member (it is free as a Foundation Trainee and will give you online access to Archives of Disease in Childhood, plus discounts to certain courses!)
- Speaking with paediatric trainees and consultants at your local paeds department to understand the career and training pathway, you might even get a mentor out of this
- More officially, you can join paediatric mentorship schemes that may be run locally or nationally by organisations such as UK Aspiring Paediatricians Society (UKAPS), to be paired with a senior guide in the field
As you can see, there are a number of ways to gain exposure to, and demonstrate an interest in paediatrics, that will help enhance your interest in the field and bulk up your portfolio in time for applications.
Hopefully, this article has sparked some ideas and help all of you budding paediatricians make positive steps forward towards this wonderful career.