Let's Talk Surgery: The RCSEd Podcast

Let's Talk Surgery Podcast, Surgical Crossroads: Choosing your specialty - the Paediatrics episode

October 11, 2021 RCSEd Season 8 Episode 10
Let's Talk Surgery: The RCSEd Podcast
Let's Talk Surgery Podcast, Surgical Crossroads: Choosing your specialty - the Paediatrics episode
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Welcome to the Paediatrics episode of the RCSEd’s Careers podcast. Our panel today are Consultant Paediatric Surgeons Christopher Driver and Robin Garrett-Cox, and our very own Sesi Hotonu, who has gone from being a host of the podcast to a guest.

Christopher Driver has been a paediatric surgeon and paediatric urologist since 2000. He is currently based in the Children's Hospital in Aberdeen and is the clinical lead for the internationally regarded Scottish Paediatric Patient Safety Programme . He is a strong advocate for delivery of healthcare as close to home as possible and provides outreach services in Inverness, Dundee and Shetland. He loves the variety of paediatrics, explaining how the benefit of being a smaller specialty is that you get to do a lot of different things and describes himself as a jack of all trades, and relishes having the confidence to carry out a wide variety of procedures.

Robin Garrett-Cox has been consulting at Bristol Children's Hospital for just over 13 years in paediatric surgery neurology and oncology. He spent two months working with a paediatric surgeon during his training and found it ticked all the boxes for him. He likes the practical aspect of being a surgeon and was attracted to paediatrics because of the smaller, neater surgery involved. 

Sesi Hotonu is a paediatric surgery registrar for NHS Education Scotland, based in Edinburgh. She is also past Scottish Clinical Leadership Fellow (RCS(Ed) for NHS Grampian. While at medical school she wanted to do obstetrics and gynaecology, in particular foetal medicine. However, during a paediatrics rotation she followed the journey of a 2-3 day old baby who was transferred to a larger centre, and it was there she ‘found her tribe’. She found the pathology interesting and loved the delicate, elegant and intricate nature of the surgery. 

While describing the day-to-day nature of their work, our panel share their thoughts on the unique challenges and rewards of their specialty, such as the importance of empathetic communication with patients and parents, and the emotional challenges inherent in the job.

Aside from the obvious pleasure and rewards that come from working with children, our guests put forward an array of reasons to pursue a career in paediatrics – from the joy and interest in the variety of procedures; the life changing outcomes of a simple operation; to coming across something new every day. It’s also a small, supportive specialty and a real community of colleagues who are there for each other to provide help and advice.

If you think paediatrics might be the specialty for you, our panel advise a strong CV with audit and research experience and an excellent working knowledge of paediatric surgery. Courses are available from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. It is a competitive specialty, but as a result, most people who get into paediatric surgery have real passion and  drive to do it and do it well.

Contact Information
Visit https://www.rcsed.ac.uk/ for further information and details on becoming a member. 

Email: [email protected] for any questions or topic suggestions you may have for future episodes. 

This show is brought to you by the RCSEd. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram. Hosted by Greg Ekatah, Sesi Hotonu and Sadie Khwaja produced and directed by Heather Pownall of Heather's Media Hub Ltd

Introduction to the topic and guests
[Sadie Khwaja – Christopher Driver] What's the history of paediatric surgery?
[SK – CD] And what's a typical day for you Chris? What does a paediatric surgeon like yourself do?
[SK – Robin Garrett-Cox] Those communication skills – do you think you always had them, or do you develop them?
[SK – Sesi Hotonu] Is that what led you, Sesi, into this kind of career?
[SK – SH] You talk about the emotion, it must be quite easy to take that home with you. How do you get that balance? Can you separate work from home life?
[SK – CD & RG-C] How do you feel about that kind of balance?
[SK – All] I'm sure you've got great stories of how you really enjoyed doing paediatric surgery. I remember because I did it as a rotation, the joy of kids getting well is unbelievable.
[SK – All] So what's the most frustrating thing, if you had to say?
[Greg Ekatah – RG-C] What got you into the specialty to start with? Robin, I'm looking to you first, what is the one thing if you think back?
[GE – CD] What was the thing that attracted you the most and the thing that's kept you in paediatric surgery for 20 years?
[GE – SH] What was your inspiration? And also, how as a trainee do you deal with this variation in pathology? In terms of surgical approach but also in patient groups?
[GE – RG-C] There's a variation in physiology as well; how does one cope with that early on in your career, I suppose as part of your training as well?
[SK – RG-C] There's a nice community that you always feel in a paediatric hospital that everybody's looking out for everybody else. And that must help to have support networks, for the patients as well as the doctors.
[SK – RG-C] It's a challenging balance, isn't it [between work and family life]? How have you managed that?
[SK – CD] Chris, can you tell us about your experience [of balancing work and family life]?
[GE – CD] What's your take on the work-life balance as you've seen it for the last 25 years; has there been a shift? What is it like these days?
[GE – RG-C] Robin, your overall work-life balance, what is that like?
[GE – SH] Sesi, what are your thoughts around flexibility when it comes to both training and working in paediatric surgery – how that is at the moment and how that continues to improve?
[SK – SH] Regarding that competitiveness, are you required, or do you think you need to do some research or have an interest in that? In that CV building exercise what would you be expecting?
[SK – SH] So it sounds like you need to be dedicated, and early on, if possible. Are there societies that you can get involved with?
[SK – RG-C] Robin, have you got any other experiences that you would add in?
[SK – CD] Chris, any advice to a budding paediatric surgeon?
[SK – All] What is the future of paediatric surgery?
[GE – All] If I come to all three of you for just one final word. What advice would you give the audience as to why paediatric surgery would be the specialty to choose, and also how to get there?