A few weeks ago I visited my son Joe’s nursery to talk to the children about my job. He is three and I am a Consultant Paediatric Anaesthetist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. I wasn’t entirely sure how to set out my pitch, but at work I often find that props help the children to understand what I am trying to explain, so I arrived armed with a large dustbin bag of goodies.
I changed into my blues and put on my theatre cap and stethoscope. The children seemed enthraled and were all very keen to make suggestions about what my job might be. I doled out theatre caps to them all and sixteen miniature George Clooneys spent the next half hour looking at pictures of anaesthetic machines, practicing breathing through masks and breathing circuits, listening to each others hearts and examining cannulas.
I gave each of them one of the brightly coloured stickers we use to label syringes and told them whether they were a ‘sleepy medicine’, a ‘keep still medicine’, or a ‘stop it being sore medicine.’ We looked at the ‘magic milk’ that gives children special dreams and at the calpol that looks like water and goes into veins instead of being swallowed. We even put Joe’s special toy giraffe, RaaRaa, to sleep.
I had a brilliant time, the children were a delight and I am told that ‘doctor’ games have been a firm favourite ever since. The children did some beautiful drawings of me that were used as part of a display they are making about their parents’ jobs. I enjoyed myself so much that I did a similar thing for the children in our daughter’s class. Layla is five and there was a big difference in the sorts of questions they threw at me. One little boy asked how the anaesthetics work – greater brains than mine have spent many years trying to answer that one! Who knows though, perhaps he will grow up and be the one to make that discovery?!