Pediatric neurology trainee numbers have grown considerably in Canada; recent research, however, has shown that the number of pediatric neurology graduates is outpacing the need for future pediatric neurologists. The purpose of this study was to seek the opinion of pediatric neurology program directors and trainees regarding possible solutions for this issue.
Two focus groups were convened during the Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation annual congress in June 2012; one consisted of current and former program directors, and the other of current pediatric neurology trainees. Groups were asked for their perceptions regarding child neurology manpower issues in Canada as well as possible solutions. Focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed for analysis. Theme-based qualitative analysis was used to analyze the transcripts.
Major themes emerging from both focus groups included the emphasis on community pediatric neurology as a viable option for trainees, including the need for community mentors; recognizing the needs of underserviced areas; and establishing academic positions for community preceptors. The need for career mentoring and support structures during residency training was another major theme which arose. Program directors and trainees also gave examples of ways to reduce the current oversupply of trainees in Canada, including limiting the number of trainees entering programs, as well as creating a long-term vision of child neurology in Canada.
A nationwide dialogue to discuss the supply and demand of manpower in academic and community pediatric neurology is essential. Career guidance options for pediatric neurology trainees across the country merit further strengthening.