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Career guidance: how do we inspire students and young doctors to careers in paediatrics and child health?
  1. H M Goodyear
  1. Dr Helen Goodyear, West Midlands Workforce Deanery, St Chad’s Court, 213 Hagley Road, Birmingham B16 9RG, UK; Helen.Goodyear{at}

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Looking after children is a richly rewarding career, but with over 60 different specialties to select from how do medical students and young doctors choose their career and what factors influence that choice? Postal questionnaire surveys of UK graduates have shown that since 1993 around 7.2% of doctors select paediatrics as their career choice 1 year after qualifying.1 In the latest survey this has dropped to 5.5% of graduates selecting paediatrics at the end of the Foundation years (quote 1 in box 1).2 Only 44% of those who chose paediatrics were working in the specialty 10 years later (quote 2 in box 1).1 This article explores career guidance in the field of paediatrics and child health.


When medical students arrive at medical school they believe that they have made their career choice, only to be faced with the prospect of having to choose a specialty. It is never too early to introduce career choices into the curriculum and this needs to be done from the first year at medical school. It is important that there is an integrated approach to career management by medical schools, trusts, royal colleges and deaneries.3 Not only is career advice needed by students, but 95% of doctors in the first year after qualification wanted career advice.4 It is important to understand the factors influencing career choice and especially those which are important for paediatrics.

Career information sources (box 2)

A wealth of literature is available on different medical careers. Some of this is in written form as books or booklets5 and journal articles.6 7 Information is also widely available on a number of websites including the RCPCH (, NHS Careers (, BMJ Careers ( and those of the postgraduate deaneries. The national medical career website ( was launched in November 2008 and takes …

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  • Competing interests: Dr Helen Goodyear is Associate Postgraduate Dean for Careers in the West Midlands and President of the Medical Women’s Federation.