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Student Careers

Interviews with paediatricians

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 08 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:j5412
  1. Tom Cassidy,
  2. foundation year,
  3. doctor,
  4. Laura Watson
  1. 1York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, York, UK
  2. 2University of Aberdeen, UK

Seven trainees and consultants talk about the highs and lows of the specialty

Carol Secker, specialist trainee year 3, paediatrics, York Hospital, York, UK

What are the best and worst aspects of paediatrics?

Children can get better quickly, but they can also become sick rapidly. The challenge is spotting those likely to deteriorate and intervening at the right time.

You learn lots of different procedures—from inserting umbilical lines and intubation in neonates to putting cannulas in small children. I love the variety of cases you see at district general hospitals: you can be checking a newborn baby at an emergency caesarean section one minute, clerking in a teenager with abdominal pain the next, followed by assessing a toddler with croup in resuscitation.

It can be an emotionally challenging job, especially when you lose a patient. This is difficult in any specialty, but particularly hard to take when children are involved.

What are the challenges of treating children and developing a rapport with families?

When children are sick, parents are at their most vulnerable and can be anxious and distressed. It’s important to explain things in a way that parents can understand and to make sure that any questions and concerns are addressed. This can be challenging when you’re in the emergency department with a sick child and meeting their family for the first time.

Neil Chanchlani, specialist trainee year 2, paediatrics, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

Why did you choose paediatrics?

I was attracted to the challenges of paediatrics. For example, the vocabulary and approach you have to use when communicating with children who are just six months apart in age is different. Communicating with parents is another complex dimension—you are trying to support them and manage their expectations, particularly in instances where they have little control over their child’s outcome. When you get the balance right, it can make all the difference.

Does play have a role?

During my training, I have gained an appreciation of how important play is …

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