GPST Leadership Fellow,
Yorkshire & the Humber
I am a GP trainee leadership fellow. The opportunity presented itself at the end of my second year of GP training. I had been a Doctor for 4 years and life on the frontline of patient care had taken its toll. During the daily grind, I was finding it hard to enjoy my day to day working life and I was finding it difficult to remember the reasons I had chosen to be a doctor, let alone a GP. Then a colleague mentioned the leadership fellow year, promoted and offered by the GP school at Health Education England. After looking into the role in more detail, I thought why not? Although it changed my 3-year training programme into 4, it offered an amazing opportunity to work on a project I was passionate about and develop myself as a leader.
I am currently 4 months into this new role and I think it’s probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. My project involves working on widening participation into medicine and other healthcare related professions within the NHS. This means getting young people from less privileged backgrounds interested and applying for health care roles. As a previous widening participation student myself, this is something I am enthusiastic about. There is evidence to show people who are recruited from less represented areas eventually return to work the area that they grew up in, reducing health inequalities that are evident across the UK. Research has shown that improving diversity within the NHS can improve patient care, improve life expectancy and reduce admission rates. There is also evidence to suggest that these students often perform better at medical school than those who are from the higher represented areas. Despite this, only 20% of medical school applications come from students with less privileged backgrounds.
Over the past few months, I have been to various schools that are based in deprived areas across the Yorkshire and Humber region to inspire young people to pursue a career in healthcare. I have found that one of the main challenges for these students is getting work experience within the NHS. As you know, work experience is vital when applying to medical school as it is one of the key factors universities look for when assessing applicants. In my experience, whether a student is able to obtain work experience or not is often based on whether they or a member of their family knows someone who can offer such a placement. Unfortunately, many of the less privileged students do not have any family members who have even been to university, let alone have medics in the family or close friends who work in the medical sector. I am therefore working with hospitals based in deprived areas to try and open up opportunities for students in their area to attend a work experience placement with them. I am working with the GMC to develop a virtual reality app which could potentially be used as virtual work experience allowing all students to get some form of experience to help with their university applications, so watch this space!
As part of my fellowship year Health Education England have agreed to fund my post graduate certification in medical education which I am studying at the University of Sheffield. After just four months I am really enjoying the course and have developed an interest in teaching. As a result of this I intend to pursue some form of teaching in the future which will hopefully involve medical students. The flexibility of GP means that I can do this alongside my clinical work.
This year has given me the opportunity to work on a project that I am passionate about, shown me that I have a keen interest in medical education and made me remember the reasons I wanted to be a GP. I love the flexibility of the career, the wide range of patients that GPs see, the clinical and non-clinical problems that GPs encounter and the simple fact that I can make a real difference to my patient’s lives and the local community. I am really grateful for this amazing opportunity and feel that I will return to GP training with a newfound enthusiasm and commitment to general practice.