Working lives: Foreword

Hear from the leads of this workstream and read a summary of what children and young people think about the working lives of paediatricians.

From the workstream leads

When we started our preparations for the Paediatrics 2040 project in 2018, we asked members to join us and use their imagination in considering three questions: What might paediatrics look like in 2040? How might we train and work? How might we feel about our professional selves? Despite the changes and challenges we have faced during 2020, all these questions remain entirely relevant, and this work is our attempt at answering some of them.

The Horizon 2035 report, published in 2015, provided insight into current workforce challenges and need for change in the health care setting of the future.[1] Our work looks specifically at paediatrics in 2040, attempting to provide a reasonable and credible assessment of what that future might look like for our working lives. As we are writing this, we are in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic. Horizon 2035 explicitly mentions the applicability of the report in the absence of big change and big surprises. However, we are now working in a world that has been changed beyond our imagination by COVID-19.

We can’t help but think there is a before and after: COVID-19 was and is the disruptive and catastrophic force that changed everything. In a heartbeat. It has allowed us to look at the present and use it even more effectively to consider the future. But it has also left us humbled: such seismic shifts in training, working and wellbeing cannot be placed into models and considerations easily. Yet it has showed us that change can happen and swiftly, when needed. It has made us consider why change happens. And it has therefore provided us with a unique additional insight into ‘predicting the future’.

Future planning poses many challenges and our current situation has made that very clear. This workstream has tackled that by using scenarios, letting our imagination use the extreme ends of the spectrum to plan and consider a middle ground and by never pretending we can get this right! We want to embrace the working lives of paediatricians of the future, including the need for flexible working hours, flexible training, and flexible work content.

COVID-19 has reminded us that it is more important than ever to take care of ourselves, so alongside this work we’ve also published a detailed supporting report on wellbeing (see below). In 2020, paediatricians have shown extraordinary resilience, and we now need to think about how continue that support for each other into the future.

Although well-researched, we by no means claim to have the answers. This work is intended to be the start of a conversation about how we might shape the working lives of paediatricians in the future. We hope you will read it with interest and curiosity.

Dr Judith van der Voort, Co-Chair for the Paediatrics 2040 Working Lives Workstream

Dr David Evans, Co-Chair for the Paediatrics 2040 Working Lives Workstream

Professor Russell Viner, President RCPCH 2018-2021

Alison Firth, Paediatrics 2040 Project Manager, RCPCH

From RCPCH &Us, the voice of children, young people and families

The working lives of paediatricians are really important to children and young people. We want to make sure that you are looked after, with our ideas being to:

“reduce working hours to allow for paediatricians more rest to look after their own mental health and retain their love for their job” RCPCH &Us 2021, Scotland

We want to see healthy and happy paediatricians who have more time to treat children and young people and who get to use their different ways, ideas or technology in different places to treat us, like having school-based GP surgeries.

We think it’s also important that you get the chance to have as much training as possible so that you feel comfortable and confident when we share our problems with you, like training in mental health, or different cultures or backgrounds like BME or LGBT experiences.

It would be great if there is a way that children, young people and families can get involved more so that we are also able to be part of making things better for everyone. We can all be kind, happy and support each other. It’s important that you have good teams around you and good team work too, so that you can all pass on information to each other and look out for your own mental health.

Keep going strong no matter what - we need you!
Illustrations by children and young people with RCPCH &Us


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