Training to be a doctor, especially at 18 years old, is also A wonderful training to be a parent if you have the grades, the desire and the application. If you are uncertain as to what to do as a career, but are bright, medicine is often suggested. In Paediatrics there is a natural preponderance of women, and from a pool where 80% are already female. The “Gender Bias” at undergraduate as opposed to equal sex intake at graduate level is part of the problem. Poor manpower planning and rationing of medical school places explains the remainder. It’s going to get worse…because those who take longer career breaks need re-training..
Children’s health services could be put at risk as a shortage of new specialist doctors threatens to leave wards and surgeries worryingly understaffed, a leading professional group has warned.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has urged the government to plug a shortfall in the numbers of paediatricians after it found that more than half of a cohort of trainees had fallen behind on their course.
With ever more young doctors taking time out to look after their children or to pursue research, the college is worried that children’s health services will soon be sorely overstretched.
More than a third of men and half of women in its survey of 209 doctors said they had suspended their courses in the previous two years, while a quarter of all trainees had taken parental leave. About one in 30 is thought to drop out altogether each year.
The college has previously warned that most paediatric units do not have enough consultants on hand to look after emergency hospital admissions at night and at weekends.
Simon Clark, the college’s workforce officer, said there had been a “clear shift” in the working patterns young paediatricians wanted, with many taking time out for research or to spend time with their own families. “This isn’t surprising given the family-centred nature of paediatrics,” he said.
“Adaptations to workforce planning, such as an increase in the number of paediatric trainees coming into the training programme, are necessary to complement these changing behaviours and attitudes. Without them, there is a risk there won’t be enough paediatricians to staff children’s services and this could compromise patient care.”
There were also concerns that the changing demands of modern life meant that an increasing number of trainees could no longer attend enough of their classes. Barely a quarter said they were able to go to three or more of their four weekly teaching sessions.
Dr Clark said the college had set up a fund to help more trainees into clinical academia, but said the discipline could not manage without more help from ministers and funding bodies such as Health Education England.
“For paediatrics to thrive as a speciality, it is crucial that government and HEE heed these findings and adapt to contemporaneous requirements,” he said. “The RCPCH will play its part by conducting a follow-up survey two years from now — making it nine years after the cohort began training — to ensure as detailed a picture as possible is obtained in order to help attract and retain doctors to the speciality.”