Career Stories - Dr Aaliya Goya
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Dr Aaliya Goyal

GP with special interest in deprivation health and education (was a mature LTFT trainee), Birmingham

One of the most daunting things I’ve done is returning to clinical work after fifteen years away. I didn’t know anyone who had been through the same challenges that I had, so I knew that I had to make my own path. I’m glad I chose General Practice. I have always appreciated how a good GP can positively impact a person’s life. I wanted to be that GP.

I took a staff grade job in the busiest hospital in the area to obtain my certificate of foundation competence, which I needed to apply for GP training. I began less than full time (LTFT) training the following year. As a mature trainee, I was able to bring my valuable life experience into every job. I did six months posts in paediatrics, geriatrics and neurorehabilitation, obstetrics and gynaecology and dermatology. I picked up the European Certificate in Essential Palliative Care (ECEPC) along the way to add to my Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists diploma. It was difficult balancing work with health issues and family, but I had a supportive Area Director and colleagues who helped me through.

Towards the end of my ST1 year I joined a leadership programme aimed at GP trainees and early career GPs, Next Generation GP, which empowered me to step outside my comfort zone and put myself forward for new opportunities. At the final session, they asked for people to lead the next cohort. I decided to be brave and apply! Being appointed gave me a national network of like-minded proactive trainees and GPs. At one of the events, I interviewed the Chair of the RCGP who reminded me that I was never “just” a GP trainee. At the start of my ST3 year, I was asked to speak at a Trainers’ conference, focussed on the future workforce in General Practice. There I was, standing in front of all the trainers, area directors and the head of the regional GP training school. It was quite an experience!!

Getting involved in local activities as a trainee allowed people to get to know me and see what I could offer. I took up the open invitation to observe a Midland RCGP Faculty board meeting and decided to organise a GP Wellbeing cooking event, which took place at the start of my ST3 year. It was well received and led to an award from the RCGP. I was active at events with the British Medical Association (BMA) and was asked to speak at their “Women in Medicine” conference. Sharing my story with female doctors of all grades and specialities, including consultants, made me realise how connected we are. Of course, my focus was getting through training, and I passed both GP training exams first time to gain my Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT), as planned, in May 2020.

Being a GP has allowed me to follow my passion of caring for diverse and excluded communities. The day after my CCT date, I started a challenging, but rewarding, part-time post in a deprived area with a 90% ethnic population. A few months later, I started a Post CCT Fellowship in Deprivation Health. This gave me access to specialised teaching, funding to undertake further training of my choice and a wider network of colleagues working in similar areas across the country. I successfully applied to be a volunteer GP for Doctors of the World in their pilot clinic in Birmingham, advocating for, and providing, medical advice to refugees and migrants with inconsistent or no access to healthcare. I finally put myself forward for a role on the Midland RCGP Faculty board and after being elected, was given further positions as an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champion and Fellowship committee member, helping to assess applications for Fellowship of the Royal College of GPs. I have played a leading part in the RCGPs Ramadan 2021 videos and spearheaded a programme of events for South Asian Heritage Month 2021. My aim was to celebrate the culture and heritage of our community of South Asian GPs and trainees, while encouraging learning on the unique aspects of caring for the South Asian communities (which make up 40% of the population in the Midlands). I’ve organised wellbeing events on skincare and origami, spoken in national and international webinars, television, and radio on a variety of subjects from COVID-19 to digital privacy to food policy. My opinions have been published in respected journals. Shortly after my one-year CCT anniversary, I was appointed as a GP Training Programme Director. I hope to support future GPs and inspire them to appreciate that they are never “just” a trainee. I’ve been a GP for just over a year and the diversity of opportunities I’ve had is truly breath-taking!

What job allows you to set your own direction to follow your passions and positively impact communities you care about? General Practice! I never dreamed that when I returned to medicine, I would have the chance to combine clinical care with leadership, medical education, media and more. The opportunities are endless, even during a pandemic, and I’m looking forward to the years ahead!

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