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P3: Deciding on content

27 Jan, 15 | by Bob Phillips

The most important concept in developing and delivering a presentation is the understanding that you cannot “cover everything.” Nor should you attempt to. Your role as a presenter is to convert the “what” of “everything” into a “so what” for your particular audience. For many, both on the podium and in the audience, this is a dramatic shift in perspective.

One person speaking and many listening is the least effective form of data transfer. If you want everyone in the audience to know “everything”, send a document; it is much more efficient. You will never achieve that as a speaker. Your role is to interpret that “everything”, to offer insight, or challenge it. There is never a situation where your role is simply to recite a list of facts.

Can we incentivise improvements child health? (Part 1)

23 Jan, 15 | by Bob Phillips

It’s sometimes tricky to move one’s mind from treating the acutely unwell child, or caring for those with palliative needs, or fixing referrals to a series of health and social care colleagues and think about how we encourage people to ‘do the right thing’ in the NHS. As our previous blog explored, management is a really important area of our clinical work – have many of you thought about how the financial levers that we (frequently) hear about are intended to work?


Guest post: 5 rules parents wish we followed

20 Jan, 15 | by Bob Phillips

resizeThere’s nothing that necessarily makes parents better paediatricians, or paediatricians  better parents, but it’s true that experiencing different stuff can be a great teaching experience … And our guest blogger Lucinda Winckworth is giving is five great tips from experience on the other side of the baby gro…

Since having my children I have experienced both the good and the bad of the NHS and have picked up a few things along the way that will change how I act when I go back to work…

P3: A presentation is the product of its parts, not simply a powerpoint.

16 Jan, 15 | by Bob Phillips

6za74k736pc03j9fp8h5gialh.500x223x11In this blog, Ross Fisher (aka @ffolliet) takes us into a little-taught area of medical professionalism.


In this introductory blog, we’ll be introduced to a new (well, new-to-me) way of thinking about the oft-repeated act of standing before an audience of our peers and beginning to speak …

We teach clinical skills and yet presentation skills we assume happen by imitation, osmosis or perhaps even magic. The current reality of almost every presentation delivered leads us to the inescapable conclusion that we should teach presentation skills too. They are no more innate than auscultation or performing a lumbar puncture.

The evidence is in the scientific conferences and meeting rooms across our land. With the appropriate resource open, text has usually been copied directly into the chosen presentation software, some clip art and pie charts are added, a template may be applied and the creation is complete. It is then read verbatim to the audience, frequently with no further preparation, the presenter facing the screen. This is not an effective way to share information: most recipients of such presentations would grudgingly acknowledge this fact. What is hard to believe is that this flawed process is virtually universal, repeated even by those who recognise its limitations.


Networking in academia, where will it take you?

13 Jan, 15 | by Bob Phillips

“Without Fleming, no Chain; without Chain, no Florey; without Florey, no Heatley; without Heatley, no penicillin.”



Ask people about the discovery of penicillin and the majority picture Alexander Fleming making his momentous breakthrough alone, in his laboratory with only a petri dish of mould for company. The reality of course was much much complex and it was only through collaboration and networking that penicillin could be brought to the bedside where it could benefit patients directly. Indeed, Sir Henry Harris, when giving his view on the discovery of penicillin, perhaps put it most eloquently with the quote above.


So what is networking and how can it benefit paediatricians in academia?

Networking can be defined as the use of both formal and informal connections between groups of colleagues to help develop and progress your career. It can be as simple as asking a senior clinician for advice about a patient to something as complex as conducting research on separate sites which will ultimately lead to a joint publication. more…

When did you last ask about the manufacturer?

9 Jan, 15 | by Bob Phillips

It’s been a week of finding out things I didn’t know I didn’t know about. iCarly, for one. Life expectancy in young people with deliberate self harm for another. And fake medicines.


Guest Blog: Involving children and young people in health and social care research: the need for a new perspective

6 Jan, 15 | by Bob Phillips

We’re all very aware of including young people in our clinical work – it’s why we’re in child health – but what about making it happen in research? This blog post by Louca-Mai Brady, a researcher working in the field of CYP’s participation in health services and research, and NIHR INVOLVE advisory group member, briefly outlines why this matters and how it could be taken forward.


StatsMiniBlog: Causal Analysis

2 Jan, 15 | by Bob Phillips

20140205-091454.jpgA while back, we looked at propensity scores as a way of adjusting / controlling for confounders in non-randomised designs. Another approach is the hypothesis-driven estimation of an ‘instrumental variable': a measurable feature which causes* an outcome to occur through the agency of another.


In the olden days (before smartphones, WiFi and email addresses that didn’t take the form ) folk studied by going to libraries. People who studied more used to pass the memory tests we used to evaluate competence (exams). We could imagine working out if studying more -> better exam passing by measuring ‘time in library’ – the ‘instrumental variable’.


What would you like (for Christmas / Birthday / Leaving present …)?

26 Dec, 14 | by Bob Phillips

Now, when you’ve got someone who’s older than – say – five, and you’re not Santa … actually, even if you are … and they have a gift-related event coming up, you tend to ask them what they might like for a present (if you’re in the UK).

(If you’ve not had this experience, you might want to think about how it was when you were littler, and what folk did for you.)

Why do we do this?


Children are not little adults. Sometimes.

19 Dec, 14 | by Bob Phillips

We reported some time ago that a review of Cochrane reviews (yes .. we are well aware of the meta-meta here ) looking at both adult and child responses to treatments showed, on average, that an intervention was equally as likely to be effective, or ineffective, in children as it was in adults.

Like many averages, though, this one hides a wealth of difference. (Take for example, the question “Do antibiotics help children with fever?” – on average, the answer may be ‘No’, but this will hide those with sepsis who it saves, and those with viral / malignancy fevers who it only gives horrible diarrhoea, rashes and vomiting to.) Sometimes children and adults may have the same ‘name’ diagnosis (perhaps ‘heart failure’?) but have such different pathophysiologies that treatments may be differentially effective.

What about functional constipation?

This is a common condition in children and adults, and it would be great if we could get it fixed. Remember that children with chronic constipation have a far worse quality of life than children with acute leukaemia. An industry-sponsored study looked at Prucalopride


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