Hello everyone. I am delighted to be joining you as Dean at the Royal Society of Medicine.
While there are enormous challenges ahead in these really exciting times, it is recognised that in times of chaos, rapid beneficial changes can be instigated in organisations! This is particularly pertinent for me since my remit is to support the RSM to continue delivering excellent education.
My background is that of a general and colorectal surgeon. I work as an NHS consultant at Ashford and St Peters NHS Trust in Surrey and I’ve always had an interest in education. I have a Master of Surgery in Surgical Research from the London University and an MA in Clinical Education from the University of Brighton. For the last 10 years I’ve been Head of School of Surgery and Associate Dean for Health Education, Kent, Surrey and Sussex where I had overall responsibility for the postgraduate education and training of over 350 surgeons in the region.
In addition to this I am a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Educators and am the Treasurer of the Faculty of Surgical Trainers which is based at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
In 2012 I was awarded the prestigious honour of the Silver Scalpel Trainer of the Year by the Association of Surgeons in Training. I think that it was this award which springboarded me into education as well as surgery.
I’ve always had strong attachments to the Royal Society of Medicine, starting as a trainee when I presented case presentations at meetings of the former Clinical Section. I’ve always been involved with the Section of Coloproctology and was President in 2017/2018. In addition to this I hold a Professorship in Surgical Education at Canterbury Christchurch University.
Now you know a little bit about me I’m going to tell you my aspirations and what I feel I can bring to the education department at the Royal Society of Medicine.
It is without doubt that the RSM delivers exceptional education in specialised areas through the Sections. Until I started looking into this post I had no real idea of how many programmes are delivered by the Sections and the RSM, nor had I any idea about the work involved in planning and delivering what I now know to be the many hundreds of programmes each year.
I am amazed by the enthusiasm and goodwill of the Sections who have worked so hard to continue delivering high quality medical education during the pandemic through the RSM’s new virtual platform.
As many of you will know, there has been a consultation with Sections, conducted prior to my appointment, and the feedback has been generally good, with a lot of enthusiastic comments regarding the RSM and its level of education. I will be looking in detail at the results and exploring how this feedback can be developed.
As I have a Deanery background, I am keen to bring trainees through the front door of the RSM. It is important we bring youth and energy into the organisation and I would like to do this by having some programmes focused on training in the workplace.
There are plenty of ideas that would appeal to these younger doctors. ‘Supervision in training’, ‘training the trainers’ as well as ‘future leadership’ are just a few topics we could consider. And, since one of the RSM’s unique selling points is its multiprofessional membership, these programmes can be cross-disciplinary, reflecting the constituency of the workplace. This sort of programme would, I believe, strengthen the RSM’s education and help form a bridge between the RSM and Health Education England.
RSM education is, in the future, likely to be a mix of in person and virtual programmes. The digital platform will allow the RSM to spread its wings and develop from, as some see it, a London-based club, into an international multiprofessional medical educational organisation. We need to develop hybrid education programmes with the speakers in one room and maybe a small in person audience, with a larger audience participating offsite from their laptops and phones. It is important that we develop a good interface and have useful dialogues through this medium.
I do not wish to see the end of in-person education as I know that a lot of useful education and networking goes on outside our lecture theatres, for example, at coffee breaks and at the beginning and end of meetings. This must be encouraged, not least by using the building to maximise its potential for new ways of meeting and working together post-Covid.
There is a big programme reviewing Continuous Professional Development (CPD) by the General Medical Council. Currently the need for CPD is driven by revalidation and it focuses on outcomes or outputs rather than inputs. Doctors need to reflect on what they have learned from an activity and how this could help maintain or improve the quality of their practice. The focus should be on the quality of CPD rather than counting credits. A big question for the RSM to consider is whether we should be shifting away from a credit-based system and focus only on quality and with a bigger emphasis on reflection? I would be very pleased to hear your views about the direction of CPD (you can email me on the address below).
It is difficult joining an organisation virtually. I have missed face-to-face meetings although I do now have square eyes having had so many Zoom conversations with Section Presidents, members of the education department, RSM Trustees and the Senior Management Team.
I look forward to meeting more of you in the future and I have an open door - albeit virtual for now - for anybody who wishes to contact me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.