Dr Rachana Varma is a ST6 paediatric trainee, currently doing her HDU spin rotation at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. As an international medical graduate who has completed her paediatrics training in India, she started with a trust grade job in Peterborough before joining paediatrics specialty training with East of England deanery. In her spare time, she likes to do gardening and practice mindfulness. Given more time, she would like to have a go at tennis, as it looks fun when her kids play it!
What is NPEG?
NPEG stands for the Norfolk Paediatric Education Group, an education initiative run by a group of paediatricians, based at the Jenny Lind Children’s Hospital in Norwich. Since being founded in 2007 amongst a few hospitals, NPEG now runs online half-day seminars (09:00-12:30) on the first Thursday of each month. A list of previous NPEG programmes can be found here: https://www.npeg.org.uk/events/previous-programmes/
Membership and attendance for meetings is free, and will just require registration for their website, which can be done here: https://www.npeg.org.uk/register/npeg-member/
You do not have to work in Norfolk / Suffolk or East Anglia to attend the meetings or to be a member. And sessions are multidisciplinary: nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians and other allied healthcare professionals and medical students are all welcome to attend!
How did you get involved with NPEG?
I have worked in NNUH, so have previously attended NPEG and also presented a couple of times for NPEG. I wanted to organise a study day for CHEERI while simultaneously highlighting the research activities happening in the region and spreading the word about CHEERI. So I thought that NPEG would be a great platform for conducting a study day that is focussed on research, and would enable us to reach out to more people at all levels and across multiple disciplines, across the entire region and more.
Can you tell us more about the Research in Paediatrics Day?
We ran this in April 2023 (and the full programme can be viewed here: https://www.npeg.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/NPEG-programme-April-2023.pdf)
I knew a few speakers within the region who were active in research, and my colleagues were able to suggest a few more names who I could contact.
The focus was on highlighting the research happening in various hospitals around the region, rather than aiming for particular topics (which would be the focus for a more educational event). So the programme covered a broad range of topics, from Dr Chapman talking about setting up a clinical trial in a district general hospital, to the role for medical students in research (by Dr Jo Johnson), a talk about the patient journey in research by Ms Esther Daubney (paediatric research nurse), trials and future outlooks of integrating genomic medicine into paediatric care (by Prof David Rowitch) and the current developments for Angelman Syndrome (by Dr Theodora Markati).
The aim of this programme was to inspire more clinicians to be involved with research in paediatrics.
How did you find the experience of hosting an NPEG day?
I was taking the lead for organising an event after a long time since my medical school in India. And I am really grateful for all the support from other CHEERI members, especially Dr Alison Skippen who helped me with hosting the event on the day. This event was a group effort, and I really enjoyed getting to know the people I worked with better through the collaboration.
Of course, event organisation isn’t always straight forward! I initially got in touch with the NPEG organisers in October 2022 to arrange a date and subsequently got in touch with a few speakers once the date was fixed. However we had to change the date from March to April for various reasons which required a lot of follow up communications.
There were a few technical glitches on the day as it was hosted online. On the day of the event I was continuously multitasking which I found to be fun and challenging. I was listening to the talk, whilst coordinating the questions through raised hands/ chat. I had to figure out how to transfer the access to the recorded talk ( large file!!) to my colleague while hosting, as soon after my introductory talk I realised I was unable to share my presentation in slideshow format which meant I won’t be able to load the recorded talk either. After a few behind the scenes stressful moments, I was able to successfully transfer it to Alison who fortunately was able to share it successfully with the audience.
Overall it was a great experience and I would be up for trying to organise research or study days like this again in the future!
Note: when you become an NPEG member, you can watch recordings of past seminars, including this CHEERI Research Day (April 2023).
NPEG website: https://www.npeg.org.uk/
NPEG website free registration: https://www.npeg.org.uk/register/npeg-member/
Past CHEERI event programme: https://www.npeg.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/NPEG-programme-April-2023.pdf