Paediatrics is an undersubscribed medical speciality and figures suggest that interest continues to decline. Competition ratios for 2015 and 2016 entry to the Paediatric training programme at ST1 level were 1.9 and 1.6 respectively. Averaged across both Tier 1 and 2 rotas there was an increase in the vacancy rate from 12.1% in January 2015 to 14.9% in January 2016. Undergraduate paediatric training is between 5–8 weeks and present in only a minority of Foundation Training Programmes. Our aim was to give undergraduates an opportunity to learn more about Paediatrics through development of a Child Health summer school. The secondary aim was for this to increase interest in paediatrics as a career.
We designed a one week programme, delivered in a tertiary paediatric hospital for second year medical students. The programme comprised of educational sessions and experiential learning experiences including small group tutorials, parent and patient engagement session, paediatric outpatient clinics and simulation sessions. It concluded with a careers session and student presentations identifying what they had gained from the week. Students quantitatively scored each session and completed a pre and post course evaluation form.
Eight students attended the course Students self-reported knowledge of Paediatrics increased from an average score of 1.5/5.0 pre course to 3.6/5.0 post course. Their interest in paediatrics as a career increased from an average score of 3.4/5.0 pre course to 4.5/5.0 post course. All sessions scored well with the simulation and patient engagement sessions most valued. Participants reported greater insight and understanding of a career in paediatrics. Comments included:
‘Much greater understanding of the role of the paediatrician’
‘I have discovered the opportunities that paediatrics can offer you’
The Child Health Summer school gives medical students the opportunity to experience paediatrics earlier in their medical school training. The summer school increased the medical students knowledge and interest in paediatrics as a career, although it is unclear if this will translate into paediatric specialty training applications. The programme will be repeated in 2017 with enhanced numbers and respond to student’s suggestions to run it for longer with increased ward exposure.
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