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Issue 126 Winter 2017

Endocrinologist > Winter 2017 > Next Generation

Keep your career sweet: the first National Diabetes and Endocrinology Taster Day

Louise Hunter & Shazia Hussain | Next Generation

‘Gastroenterologists drive mud-splattered Land Rovers, cardiologists prefer fast red Ferraris, and nephrologists like amphibious vehicles. But, as an endocrinologist, you can drive all the cars!’

With an amusing yet inspirational speech, Tahseen Chowdhury (London) opened our first National Taster Day for clinical careers in diabetes and endocrinology, which was held in Birmingham in September.

This joint initiative by the Society for Endocrinology and the Young Diabetologists’ and Endocrinologists’ Forum (YDEF) aimed to showcase what’s best about our brilliant specialty. It targeted trainees early in their medical careers.

Preliminary research led by Amar Puttanna (YDEF Chair) has demonstrated that a lack of exposure may deter trainees from considering a career in endocrinology and diabetes.1 Recognising that there are few specialty events geared towards undifferentiated trainees, a group of six registrars with varying sub-specialty interests came together from across the country. They had a common goal in mind: to enhance knowledge of our specialty. To achieve this, they provided a unique opportunity for senior medical students and undifferentiated clinical trainees to see, for themselves, what our job involves.

We offered free attendance to UK students and trainees (foundation and core medical), and are hugely grateful to the local training programme directors and administrators who helped us publicise the event. Although we were unable to reimburse travel expenses, we did offer attendees a free 3-month Passmedicine subscription ( as an added incentive.


After months of planning, we were delighted to welcome over 70 delegates to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital on a rainy Saturday morning. Here they gathered under the same roof as expert patients, excited members of the multidisciplinary team and enthusiastic senior clinicians. We were particularly impressed by the diverse mix of delegates, some of whom had travelled from as far as Gateshead and Southampton – and one even attended pre-nightshift!

The day began with a series of short talks, after which the delegates rotated through small group workshops chaired by patients and different healthcare professionals. Activities included:

  • learning about a week-in-the-life of an endocrinologist from Claire Higham (Manchester)
  • hearing acromegaly anecdotes from John Wass (Oxford)
  • meeting Kristien Boelaert (Birmingham) and some of her patients
  • experiencing hands-on insulin pump teaching led by Peter Hammond (Harrogate) and his assistant Dipsy the Teletubby
  • learning to carb-count with dietician Will Hadfield (London)
  • hearing the patient perspective from type 1 diabetes blogger and campaigner Georgia Thomson (Cardiff).

There were also plenty of opportunities for delegates to speak to faculty members about the wide opportunities offered by a career in endocrinology and diabetes to its trainees, which were also covered by a closing talk from Frank Waldron-Lynch (Cambridge).


The Faculty. ©L. Hunter & S. Hussain

The Faculty. ©L. Hunter & S. Hussain

We are still in the process of analysing the formal feedback. However, we are delighted to say that the informal feedback has been extremely encouraging and that one-third of the delegates have already enquired about Society membership. (Hopefully some new members are reading this now!)

While our intention was to inspire our junior colleagues, the infectious enthusiasm left us, as a group of registrars, feeling motivated and recharged ourselves.

We thank the associated organisations for all their support: the Society for Endocrinology, Diabetes UK and the Association of British Clinical Diabetologists. We are grateful for the additional sponsorship secured by the YDEF team, without whom the event would’ve proved difficult to host. We look forward to ongoing support and collaboration, which we hope will allow for future successful events across the country.

Finally, particular mention must be made of Anna Mitchell (former Early Career Steering Group Chair, Society for Endocrinology), Muna Nwokolo (former YDEF Chair) and Amar Puttanna (YDEF Chair), who propelled this idea into motion. We’d also like to extend special thanks to all of our faculty (pictured, plus Ali Karamat (West Midlands) and Tahseen Chowdhury) who so generously gave up their Saturdays to inspire early career trainees – some of whom will be our future specialty colleagues.

If, after reading this, you yourself might consider running a Taster Day, please do get in touch ([email protected] or [email protected]).

Louise Hunter & Shazia Hussain, Clinical Committee SpR Representatives, Early Career Steering Group


  1. Puttanna et al. 2017 Diabetic Medicine 34 Suppl 1 P260 (doi:10.1111/dme.24_13304).

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