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Back to the future: education or training for paediatricians?
  1. A F Mellon1,
  2. D G Murdoch-Eaton2
  1. 1
    City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Sunderland, UK
  2. 2
    Leeds Institute of Medical Education, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Andrew Mellon, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Sunderland SR4 7TP, UK; andrew.mellon{at}

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Paediatricians can justifiably claim a special interest in education. Our specialty runs parallel to children’s school lives, while their cognitive growth and development is a core subject matter in our practice. We are influenced by many of the same developmental theorists as teachers, for example, Piaget, Skinner,1 and few of us would question the importance of education in improving a child’s life chances. Perhaps unconsciously, therefore, we have a tendency to see education as something that happens in schools and colleges. In our professional lives meanwhile we face a dual challenge of helping the newest generation of young doctors develop, and also ensuring that we can maintain our own knowledge and practice. We would argue that education, in a broad sense, should be at the centre of our own developmental needs as paediatricians.

Education: why worry?

Debate about subtle distinctions between the terms “training” and “education” may seem pedantic, as they are often used interchangeably, but they can be seen to have distinct and important implications. The American Medical Association highlights the ethos it wishes to encourage between trainees and trainers, implicitly pointing to some differences:

“The teacher-learner relationship should be based on mutual trust, respect, and responsibility. This relationship should be carried out in a professional manner, in a learning environment that places strong focus on education, high quality patient care, and ethical conduct.”2

In our view we should aim to develop and use the best approaches to training as part of a broader strategy of “education for paediatricians”. An educated workforce, as well as being trained, has the potential for greater self-evaluation and development.3 4 Looking to models from the educational literature can be of value when deciding how best to support learners and encourage their education, in addition to their training, as paediatricians.

Medical training: the past

The traditional approach to …

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  • Funding Article commissioned by the Archives of Disease in Childhood Editorial team.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.