Guest blog from Dr Nicole Parish, Clinical Psychologist, Noah’s Ark Hospital for Wales
We’re led to believe that multitasking is a good thing. That tackling several activities in one go, while thinking of many more, is a highly regarded skill essential to our professional and personal lives. But could there be advantages of not planning the next activity while you’re still doing your last; of not checking your phone while eating lunch; or of not mentally replaying things from your day while watching TV?
What if instead there was a drive to do one thing at one time? Well, that’s the concept of mindfulness: to actively focus your attention on one thing in the present moment and to do it in an accepting, non-judgmental way.
I am Nicole, a Clinical Psychologist working within the Children’s Hospital for Wales and I am keen to promote the idea of mindfulness for staff well-being. As an outsider, I can see how a career in medicine could take its toll: the multiple demands, the irregular shift patterns and dealing with difficult situations on a daily basis. I feel it is important to do all we can to change the inevitably flawed systems in which we work in and, until then, support staff to manage it. Rather than just expecting them to cope.
Thank you to Lisa Budd for her photograph from California
Our working lives can make our already busy minds even more frantic. We’ll go over things that have happened; thinking about how things could have or should have gone. Equally, we daydream about what’s to come; practicing conversations in our head or imagining the worst case scenario. In recognising this, mindfulness first asks us to slow down the mental chitter chatter. To notice when your mind is going off on a tangent and to bring it back to the here-and-now.
Then there’s the judgments we make. The continual and automatic criticisms we have about anything and everything. That sound is irritating, that person is really frustrating or I’m so stupid I shouldn’t have done that! This is why the second concept of mindfulness asks us to be open to all experiences in a non-judgmentally. Imagine two people are caught in a downpour of rain. One is furious, wishing they’d checked the weather forecast and worrying that they’ll get a cold. Whereas the other notices the pressure of the rain droplets on their shoulders and the feeling of cold water on their hands. Both of them will get just as wet, but their emotional experiences of the storm are going to be very different.
Having said that, mindfulness isn’t a miracle cure that’s going to make all your stress disappear. But focusing on only one thing may help you to feel more settled, even if just for a moment. Perhaps doing less at once could help you to tackle more? And taking the time to tune into how you are feeling may motivate you to make beneficial changes. At work you’re expected to wash your hands between seeing patients, and perhaps there is a way to think about refreshing you mind in a similar way?
Thank you to Lisa Budd for her photograph from California
If you’re interested in finding out more, the books ‘Mindfulness: Finding peace in a frantic world’ by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, and ‘Wherever You Go, There You Are’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn are a good place to start. Plus many health boards in Wales offer mindfulness initiatives for staff. For example, I deliver drop-in mindfulness sessions every fortnight within Cardiff and Vale UHB. There are also free courses lead by Academi Wales, such as ‘An Introduction to Mindfulness’ and their 3-day retreat style ‘Explore and Walk’, which I can say first hand is brilliant.Want to start smaller? You can make tweaks to your routine to be more mindful, the trick is finding something that works for you. My sister, for example, is a fan of listening to an app on her phone for about 5-10 minutes a day (well, on the days she remembers and that’s fine!). If you’d like the structure of a guided meditation, and could benefit from taking yourself away for a short period of time, some good ones to try are Headspace (free to download, with an optional subscription), Buddhify (initial fee for the app, then free to use) and Smiling Mind (free to download and free to use).
Whereas I prefer to build the ideas of mindfulness into what I am already doing. I use my walk home as an opportunity to focus on the scene around me, the colour of the trees and the movement of my feet. If that’s more up your street, try choosing one thing to do with more intent and curiosity. When brushing your teeth, notice the sensation of the bristles and taste of the toothpaste; when washing up, pay attention to the temperature of the water and the squeaky sound of the sponge; or perhaps sit down to really enjoy that cup of tea, rather than picking up your mug to take a sip only to find you’ve drunk it all!
So instead of multitasking, maybe it is time to try focusing your attention on just one thing? Purposefully and non-judgmentally. You won’t do it perfectly and you will get distracted. But that’s ok. Mindfulness isn’t about getting it right, it’s all about noticing, accepting and refocusing, many times over.
“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
13th-15th November, Southport Theatre and Convention Centre
Once again I was privileged to attend the Association for Simulated Practice in Healthcare annual conference. The train journey to get here was epic but the conference was def. worth the travelling. The conference started with a Tuesday Evening Keynote after a day of workshops. An inspiring first session from Professor Tim Draycott. He spoke about simulation giving teams a chance to 'Have another go'. Team training and teams who train together the communicate well and share leadership. But he demonstrated many examples where teams training together did not improve outcomes. So therefore what is it about a team which makes them more effective? Professor Draycott suggested that teams who did this stated the emergency earlier, the amount of directed commands was higher and they communicated using an SBAR model (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation) In teams that were training together but not seeing improvement in their outcomes he suggests looking further and ensuring that the equipment used is appropriate and that the simulations are standardised, like a recipe. He asks whether as we move forward we should be looking at simulation and evaluating it as we do pharmacological drugs - can we make it a qualy? This would engage and influence the policy makers. Could we offer insurance discounts to hospitals who regularly participate in team simulation and show that this has increased patient safety. We need to give simulation a value. He also suggested that simulation could be use to understand problems and help make the right way the easiest way. Therefore identifying ways which the system needs to change by running simulations. It is more than just knowledge transfer.
Day 2 began with one of the most inspiration speakers I have seen at a conference. Dr Kimberley Stone From Seattle Children's hospital spoke about using simulation to test out the design of a new children's hospital. They got the designers to mock up a card board version of areas such as the research room in the emergency department and the kitchen so they could run through how the rooms flowed and worked. When they found significant flaws in the design of the resus room they were able to redesign it and make it fit how they wanted it to work, all using simulation. Once the bricks were laid and the hospital was ready to open the simulated 'a day in the life of …. ward' before a patient stepped foot in the door. They were able to identify latent threats and patient safety issues and correct them without any chance for patients to come to harm.
This offered me a completely different view of simulation and one which I had not thought of using simulation for but when you look at it, it makes complete sense. If we can do practise runs in the hospital before it's built we ensure that equipment is where we need it to be and patient flow is optimised. If we then SIM each area before it is used we can identify all the latent threats and eliminate them before they become close to making it into patient care. This use for simulation looks fantastic and in the future this should become the norm.
Breakout sessions then commenced with a variety of talks on exciting projects which are happening around the country. I was particularly interested in Doreen Stockdale's presentation on running a 'Dragons Den' type competition for midwifery students to design an app which introduces the students to simulation teaching and how it works. It is often forgotten when you have been doing simulation for a while that to others it is an alien teaching form and they don't know how to do it. The app is in the process of being made and has 3 area's - Know yourself, know others and Get to know the story. I'm looking forward to seeing it finished and whether we could use it with our undergraduate students or nursing colleagues as an introduction to simulation.
The next keynote was delivered by Professor Nick Sevdalis He spoke about moving simulation from looking at Efficacy (can I work?) to Effectiveness (Does it work?) Looking a scaling up simulation training programs and how we can make it work.
Followed by more breakout sessions. The most interesting session I attended focused on developing non technical skills recognition for junior doctors through simulation teaching. This involved designing a 'Bingo' type card for simulation observers to focus on different human factors while the simulation session was going on rather than be passive observers. This helps in developing the knowledge of the junior doctors in human factors.
The final keynote speaker on day 2 was Paul Gowen's who is the Lead consultant paramedic for the Scottish Ambulance service. He demonstrated the fantastic work which the Scottish Ambulance service has been doing for out of hospital cardiac arrests and was a very dynamic speaker, I would recommend watching his talk on catch up for a reminder about why we are all focusing on simulation to improve patient outcomes.
After a meeting of the Paediatric special interest group was done it was onto the conference dinner. Photo's of this will not be shared but I loved the addition of a mini conference photo booth!
Day 3 started with 2 keynote speeches. The first delivered by Dr Neil Ralph @DrNRalph from Health Education England who shared the notion that we should be investing in the people who deliver the simualtions and focusing more on faculty development as well as working with e-LfH to offer e-learning around simulation. Followed by Professor Bob Stone who tooke the whole room into a world of virtual reality being utilised in the armed forces and how this can be applied to healthcare. He focused very much on 'Humans first, technology second' Mixed reality in healthcare is not yet fit for purpose but its developing fast and new opportunities are emerging. plus the simulation for evacuation of casualties on the helicopter looked absolutely fantastic. His keynote offered us a taste of what is yet to come, and it could make simulation even more exciting.
I presented in the next breakout session the falls project detailed below. After lunch their were further breakout sessions to see what everybody else was doing within simulation around the country and learn about the introduction to the STEP program which ASPiH has developed to aid with the development of simulation technicians.
The closing keynote was delivered by Bryn Baxendale. Who spoke about the development of health teams.
I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to present some of the work we have been doing in Cardiff and Vale within the medical education team in simulation.
Within Cardiff and Vale we have reorganised the way we have been creating and structuring our simulation courses. We have been making these more mutli-disciplinary and therefore focusing on team work within the NHS. We know that increasing team work increases productivity and improves patient safety.
We have also been evaluating our simulation more effectively and have been able to show statistically significant increases in confidence and knowledge following attendance at a simulation course. We are creating simulation courses around significant targets for the trust such as the reduction of falls. I was lucky to present orally a project we did with the Trauma and Orthopaedic department. We created a patient story simulation from admission to post theatre in order to improve the confidence of the Foundation Doctors with patient management. This has been a very successful course which significantly improved the confidence of the trainees who have been through it.
The second oral presentation I gave was on the Falls project. We are keen to develop simulation around significant patient safety issues and falls prevention and management has been highlighted as one of these. We have been working with a ward in our hospital and lead nurses have been trained in teaching simulation and are now delivering it to their teams. Again this project has been very successful.
The two poster presentations are below and focus on a further 2 simulation course which are available. I was grateful to get the opportunity to present the fantastic work we have been doing in Cardiff and Vale to a wide audience.
In summary, if you have any interest in simulation I would absolutely recommend that you put the ASPiH conference in you diary to attend, next year is in Belfast. The keynote speeches from this year can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzm6Ad9XIwxksSlhE9BK4IQY2kOpKvxUJ
Thank you to the ASPiH team for giving me the opportunity to present our work and to Cardiff and Vale for enabling me to attend this fantastic conference which has given me lots of exciting ideas.
For more information:
Last years blog can be found here: https://www.wrenpaediatrics.com/blog/its-all-about-simulation
ASPiH website: http://aspih.org.uk/
Follow on twitter: @ASPiHUK
Conference website: http://www.aspihconference.co.uk/
20th November 2018
Dr Chris Course
The 32nd Annual Symposium for Cystic Fibrosis in Adults and Children took place at the Royal Society of Medicine in London on 20th November 2018. It had been organised by Professor Iolo Doull from the Department of Paediatric Respiratory Medicine and Cystic Fibrosis at the Children’s Hospital for Wales, Cardiff, and aimed to serve as an update for hot topics and emerging trends in the care of cystic fibrosis over the past 12 months. This was my second visit to the Royal Society of Medicine, and again it didn’t disappoint. It is a great venue for any meeting, and always provides excellent conference facilities and service. The RSM put on a great variety of meetings, and there is generally something for everyone, no matter what your area of clinical interest. Many of the meetings are either free or very reasonably priced.
The 32nd Symposium for CF started with a talk from Dr N ick Simmonds from the Royal Brompton about some of the diagnostic challenges emerging in the world of CF. With increasing understanding of CFTR gene variations and mutations, there is an increasing awareness of variable clinical phenotype and disease penetrance. There appears to be an increasing acceptance of a range of CF-related disease, and single-organ disease (e.g. pancreatic dysfunction with normal respiratory health) is being seen in some of the more variable genotypes in some patients. The importance of clinical correlation with genotype was highlighted, as well as the importance of functional assessment of CFTR in diagnostics. The traditional importance of sweat chloride was stressed, and a discussion was had around the emerging use of nasal potential difference calculations in functional assessment of CFTR was discussed.
This was followed by a presentation from Dr Julian Forton, Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, Cardiff on how best to diagnose respiratory infection in children. This focussed on the successful completion of the CF-SpIT trial, led by Dr Forton (and paper available here: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(18)30171-1/fulltext) which found that induced sputum samples were as effective as two-lobe broncheo-alveolar lavage samples (currently the gold standard test) at assessing the pathogens present in the lower airways, but were easier to obtain and better tolerated, avoiding need for general anaesthetic. There was also a suggestion that induced sputum may be superior at assessing the bacteria present in the larger airways, which can be symptomatic in children with signs of bronchitis (wet cough). The paper is a really good read, published in the Lancet, and great to see such influential research being undertaken locally in Wales. After speaking with Dr Forton, the findings of CF-SpIT are starting to change practice internationally, especially in Australia, where routine bronchoscopy (not just for symptomatic children) is a much more common undertaking.
The morning was rounded off with presentations from Dr Kris de Boeck, Leuven University, Belgium on the challenges on investigating the clinical efficacy of newer disease modulating CF drugs (such as Ivacaftor) in children with rare genotypes, and Professor Martin Walshaw
who chaired the NICE CF guideline (https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng78). This provided an interesting contrast between the emerging advice on the challenges of investigating the treatment of rare genotypes with newer therapies, and the role of well-established management in cystic fibrosis and how to recommend best practice in a dynamic and changing treatment landscape.
Following lunch, there was a discussion from Professor Andrew Jones of the Manchester Adult CF centre on the complexities of which pathogens we should worry about (in short, we all still worry about pseudomonas, but with newer culture techniques, there are isolates emerging, such as achromobacter, ralstonia, and anaerobes which may or may not be associated with accelerated decline in lung function) and the challenges of extrapolating in vitro models in in vivo clinical situations. This was followed by a presentation from Professor Jane Davies, Royal Brompton Hospital, on the new and emerging therapies in CF. The future at present seems to be the CF modulating drugs, such as Ivacaftor, which improve the function of dysfunctional CFTR, and the potential for combination therapies which improve CFTR production and expression. The main challenges with these drugs still seem to be their immense cost, and correlating this with affordable clinical benefit. The ongoing story of gene therapies was also briefly touched upon, and although initial trials and mechanisms have had suboptimal results, newer trials and modalities are being developed and funded.
After a coffee break, the fellow presentations began. This was an opportunity for fellows and trainees to present interesting cases and discussion points to the meeting (and where I had the opportunity to discuss a case and the potential ethical implications for newborn screening). Despite the excellent calibre of the presentations that had come before, and their high academic rigour, the audience were kind and supportive for the trainee presentations, and I wasn’t faced with any overly challenging questions!
In summary, the 32nd Annual CF Symposium was a thoroughly enjoyable meeting, and relevant to anyone with an interest in respiratory health in paediatrics. It also provided a useful insight into the transition for these children into adult services and how the focus of management can change with the move to adult CF teams. It was also a valuable opportunity to undertake a bit of CV building with a case presentation (at present anyone who presents at the CF symposium is also invited to submit a review article on the subject for Paediatric Respiratory Reviews). Professor Doull is organising the 33rd Symposium in 2019 also, so keep a look out on the RSM website for further details.
Dr Annabel Greenwood
Earlier this month I attended the Wales Neonatal Network Audit & QI Day and a hot topic for discussion was sepsis and the use of antibiotics. The sepsis risk calculator (SRC) is a fairly new concept due for implementation in neonatal units across Wales early next year…but what does it involve?!
What is the sepsis risk calculator?
The SRC was established by the Kaiser Permanente Health Group in Northern California, and has reduced antibiotic use in babies by almost 50%.
It is a tool for calculating the risk of early-onset neonatal sepsis (EONS) in babies ³ 34/40 gestation. It uses maternal risk factors together with the clinical presentation of the baby to calculate a probability of EONS per 1000 babies.
Why is it important?
The incidence of EONS is 0.5-0.9/1000 live births in babies ³34/40 gestation, with a 3.5% incidence of mortality. Current guidelines for EONS are not sensitive or specific e.g. the definition of chorioamnionitis can vary, diagnostic tests have poor predictive value for EONS, and 40-50% of cases are not captured by current screening tools. Furthermore, current guidelines do not take into account the clinical examination of the baby.
We have a duty as clinicians to improve antibiotic stewardship, avoid unnecessary investigations, and shorten duration of stay in hospital.
The calculator in more detail…
An initial probability of EONS is calculated based on the population incidence together with risk factors for sepsis including; gestational age, highest maternal antepartum temperature, GBS carriage status, duration of rupture of membranes, and the nature and timing of intrapartum antibiotic administration. The baseline risk is then modified based on the infant’s clinical examination
Implementation of the Sepsis Risk Calculator…
The calculator is not currently in use in neonatal units across Wales. However, following extensive discussion at the Wales Neonatal Network Audit & QI day, the provisional aim is for implementation early next year.
It has already been implemented in some neonatal units across England (Plymouth, Exeter, Bath, Southampton, Oxford), with a reported 40-70% reduction in antibiotic use (depending on the centre
So…what do you think?
On reflection, after listening to the discussions at the Wales Neonatal Network Audit & QI day and exploring the topic further, I feel the implementation of a sepsis risk calculator on the neonatal and postnatal units is a positive move towards improving our antibiotic stewardship, protecting babies against unnecessary investigations, whilst at the same time easing the workload of the medical team by reducing unnecessary procedures. However, let’s not forget that neither the SRC or current guidelines will pick up unwell babies at birth…There is of course no substitute for clinical acumen!
30th October 2018, RCPCH London
Dr Chris Course
The RCPCH and the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) held annual joint study day aimed at promoting and de-mystifying academic training careers. This free study day is fairly new on the RCPCH events calendar, having only been held for the past couple of years, but aims to tackle an area of training which is sometimes perceived as difficult to understand and undertake.
This was my first trip to RCPCH HQ in London, and it was great to actually see the place where its all run from. Despite not being as grand as the Royal College of Surgeons or GPs, it was a modern building with good meeting facilities. I was also a little worried that, not already been on an academic training pathway, I may be a little “out-of-it” or some of the subject matter may not be useful or attainable for me.
Thankfully, I was wrong! There was a really good mix of trainees in attendance with a wide range of backgrounds. Some were already undertaking PhDs, some were nearing the end of their training and looking to build a research career, some were already on an academic training fellowship. Meeting all these colleagues with different backgrounds in the “Networking” session during the morning helped me to put my own current aspirations and difficulties into context and to being finding some solutions to these problems.
The speakers for the day were an eminent bunch and gave some really useful and insightful talks. Professor Anne Greenough started the day with a broad introduction to academic career paths, and how the new progress curriculum is building research and academia into the training domains, aiming to improve our exposure to clinical research, as well as encouraging the Deaneries to facilitate more academic opportunities. Dr Chris Gale then gave his personal experience of his path into an academic career, giving a “how-to” guide too framing a research question, finding the supervisors and mentors to help develop your project and then how to find the grant money. It was encouraging to hear how perseverance is the key to obtaining the funding, and giving hope that somebody wold fund your project if you’ve had a good idea! The morning was rounded off by Professor Paul Dimitri trying to de-mystify the NIHR – not an easy task! It seems to be a very complex structure, and I can’t say I understand how they work completely, but I’ve definitely got a better idea of where to find more information now. There was also good formation on how to further an academic career as a trainee and consultant after completing your initial projects.
The afternoon included workshops from Dr Lauren Kier from the Wellcome trust, covering tips on grant application writing and how to secure that all-important funding, and balancing clinical and academic priorities through your training grades. Following this, there was a presentation covering developing a career in industry, and leaving clinical medicine. I can’t say this talk filled me with inspiration, but it was a interesting to hear the experiences of life outside of clinical medicine with a medical degree. The day was a rounded off with an entertaining talk from Professor Mike Levin, giving an overview of “A journey into research with no plan”, and how an inquisitive mind and a bit of serendipity can help forge an academic career. I’m not sure if the much more structured and formalised training career we have now, with portfolio and ARCP demands, would still allow such a career path, but it was interesting all the same.
I would recommend the Academic Trainees Day to anyone contemplating an academic training path or thinking about taking time out of training to do research. Also highlighted in the day was the RCPCH’s Academic Toolkit www.academictoolkit.org which is another useful resource for anyone wanting to know more about academic careers. The day highlighted the challenges and obstacles to an academic career, and how to start overcoming them, and was a good networking opportunity to learn of other peoples experiences. The day showed that an academic career can be a challenging one to start and maintain, but can be incredibly rewarding.
Dr Rebecca Broomfield
A summary of a year taken out of program to pursue an interest in clinical leadership.
During the last year I have spent my time as a Welsh Clinical Leadership Fellow. While we want to use this blog to promote research and education we also want to highlight opportunities that we have within Wales for trainees. The year as a Leadership Fellow was one of the hardest but most enjoyable of my career. I have blogged on here individually about some of the fantastic opportunities which I was able to attend. I encourage you to look up the posts on the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management Leaders in Healthcare conference and the blog on the Neuroscience of Leadership course at MIT to name a few. In this summary post I want to give you an overview of why I think clinical leadership is so important and what this year involved
Why do it? Is it even important?
Leadership is everyone’s business. As you go through your career you will be but into leadership positions even if you don’t think that you are. Everybody within medicine is a leader in some way and therefore surely it is important to learn the skills to be a good one? We teach other things, procedures, history taking, interpretation of investigations so why not teach leadership? I believe there is some weight in the argument that leaders are born, not made in that some people will naturally gravitate to and thrive in leadership positions. But every leader can improve, and therefore good leadership can be taught. If as trainees we are given an opportunity to learn these skills then this can only be a good thing for the future of health care.
The Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management Trainee steering group is a fantastic resource for trainees. (https://www.fmlm.ac.uk/about-us/networks-and-groups/trainee-steering-group). They have just published a toolkit which outlines the importance of clinical leadership more eloquently than I can summate in this paragraph. It offers hints and tips to expand your own leadership styles without having to take a year out like I did. This can be found here: https://www.fmlm.ac.uk/members/resources/leading-as-a-junior-doctor
When I started this year, I anticipated that the patient improvement project which I had selected to do would be the complete focus of my attention but actually this was a very small part of the lasting impression I have from this year. My project was based within the medical education department at Cardiff and Vale Health Board. I worked with the simulation team changing the way which we collected feedback from our simulation courses, helping with the development of a new simulation suite, designing and leading new simulation courses and co-ordinating a innovative in-situ simulation program to tackle falls.
My supervisor Dr John Dunne was fantastic, alongside Miss Melanie Cotter they gave me freedom which I have not had in a structured training program to pursue my own interests and develop my project as we went along. Because of this I probably worked harder than I ever have, but also enjoyed work more than I ever did. My project actually became more of a tool in which to try out different leadership styles and the hints and tips we were learning as part of the PGCert in Leadership and management. It was successful and will leave a sustainable change within the medical education department.
As fellows we were all encouraged to take steps to select a project that was outside our comfort zone. While I did have a previous interest in medical education and simulation I am a paediatrican and a lot of my work this year has been done within adult specialities. The projects which we had very varied and extremely different but all offered the same opportunities and similar enough experiences.
This is the qualification which runs throughout the Leadership Fellow year. It is run by Academi Wales through Trinity St David University. The course gives you a qualification at the end of the year and is a big difference in Wales when compared to the clinical leadership opportunities offered in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. There were structured sessions spaced throughout the year which were attended by a wide variety of participants outside the fellowship program (clinical directors, speech and language directors and dentistry leaders to mention a few.) These focused on a variety of different areas within clinical leadership. Teaching different leadership styles, exploring coaching qualifications and self reflection with tools such as Myers-Briggs. The best session was the team building session in Elan Valley – again on this site there is a blog post dedicated to this experience.
As a tip to this years Welsh Clinical Leadership Fellows – write your project up before you go back to clinical rotations! Right now, when I’m writing the essays, I wish I’d followed this advise from the year before me 😊
I have been able to develop myself more in this year than in the whole of training so far. I have had the opportunity to analyse my behaviour looking at my preferences, understand when they might not be the best option and how to make them work for me. I have been taught the tools to look at difficult situations from different perspectives and recognise that not everybody thinks like me! – This in itself seems simple, obviously not everybody thinks the same but I was really able to explore just how different other peoples viewpoints were. By being able to see and appreciate these, not necessarily agree, you can avoid a great deal of conflict and confusion. Resulting in, as well as from, poor leadership. But I was also taught how to deal with conflict, how to turn challenge and opposition into a unifying aspect rather than a dividing one. I have learnt to ask for forgiveness, not permission and have been given the confidence to express my opinion. I have explored my own personality and learnt to look after myself. I hope to work in the emergency department and these skills will be invaluable as I go through my career to increase my emotional intelligence and resilience.
It was HARD work.
The first few months finding your feet and trying to work out what direction you wanted your project to go in were really difficult. As trainees we come from very structured environments, rotating from job to job, thinking in 6 month blocks and ticking off targets to pass the ARCP. This year was different, at the start there were no targets, you had to make and develop them yourself. You had to become used to managing your own diary. Not having to clock in and clock out was very liberating but also intense. As a group we handled this either by working every hour never really clocking off, in order to justify our time or by spending a while drifting around not really achieving much with he vast amount of time offered to us. This evened out in the end as we learnt the skills which came with the freedom. It was your responsibility to create opportunities rather than somebody handing them to you. And networking is a skill which can only be achieved through practise and comes easier to some than others.
On a personal note, I was also away for large chucks of time from my family home. I have 2 small children aged 5 and 3 and part of this year was to have the flexibility to see them more frequently. I’m not sure I achieved that, being on a plane to Boston while my daughter was on stage at St David’s Hall in her first ballet show was a particular low point. (Thanks go to my Mum for stepping into that!)
The pros far outweigh the cons. I have learnt so much more about who I am. What is good about my leadership style but also what I need to work on. My biggest learning point from this year is to respond not react, something that I didn’t even recognise I was doing until this year. I have had the opportunity to develop a long lasting quality improvement project, which is sustainable even after I have left my post. But I worked hard, I created my own opportunities and spent less time with my family than I would have liked.
Would I do it all again? … Absolutely!
If you are interested in applying for the Welsh Clinical Leadership Year and want me information please do contact me, I’d be more than happy to chat over coffee.
Guest Blog from Dr Katie Greenwood ST8
Hello! Thank you WREN team for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences over the past few years with you.
Life as a paediatric trainee can be one of considerable stimulation, compassion, challenge and significant reward. The desire to deliver a very high standard of performance and achieve excellence within the workplace, has made me recognise the importance of developing exciting out of hours interests and achievements. Alongside working hard as a senior paediatric trainee, I have developed a passion for competing in triathlons and have participated in a number of challenging races across the world.
Where did it all begin?......…
A friend mentioned joining the Cardiff Triathlon club, apparently the fastest growing club within the UK. I pondered the idea of joining the team. Here are a few initial thoughts which crossed my mind:
- How on earth do people manage to swim/cycle/run within one race?
- Open water swimming in the UK sounded particularly un-exotic!
- How does a busy paediatric trainee fit in the training for this challenging sport?
After joining the club I started my racing career with a low key Cardiff “try-a-tri” triathlon and finished the same season with a race in the French alps….the famous (and brutal!) Alpe D’huez mountain climb. Oh dear!
From these moments on, I haven’t looked back! Over the past few years I have been fortunate enough to win both the Sprint and Standard distance Welsh Champion triathlon titles.
I have also been selected to compete for Great Britain (‘GB Age group Team’) at the 2017 World Triathlon Championships in Rotterdam and European Championships 2018 & 2017 in Estonia and Dusseldorf Germany. I was absolutely delighted to represent team GB and finish in the top 10 in each race.
So what does all this involve?
I would encourage everyone to enjoy a hobby outside of work and if you are interested come and join the triathlon club. Immense enjoyment can be experienced at every level and it is a fantastic way to meet new people and keep fit ready for the workplace!
Dr Chris Course
The European Respiratory Society held their annual Congress for 2018 in Porte de Versailles conference centre, Paris. The European Respiratory Society is a non-profit organisation which aims to promote lung health and drive standards for respiratory medicine globally. In addition to publishing the European Respiratory Journal and educational handbooks, the annual congress is the largest respiratory conference in the world, covering topics on respiratory health and disease from fetal life to old age.
Having registered months ago, (with an excellent discount on the registration fee for the honour of being under 40!) the congress program arrived in my inbox a few weeks ago, and to say it was overwhelming was an understatement. There were numerous concurrent sessions, across three floors of the conference venue, with special seminars and workshops on topics from non-invasive ventilation in adults, to bronchoscopy, lung ultrasound and inhalers for COPD. Having a paediatric/neonatal interest made it much simpler, as once you had filtered out all of the adult program, there was a manageable range of choices!
The whole conference ran across four to five days, with the majority of the paediatric program running across the middle three days. The quality of presentations was high, and the speakers were clearly eminent in their field. Despite being a “European” conference there were speakers from across the world. I had gone with Professor Sailesh Kotecha and members of the research team at the School of Child Health, Cardiff University, and Professor Iolo Doull from the Paediatric Respiratory Medicine team in Cardiff.
The first day we attended sessions on Prematurity and Lung Disease which included work presented by David Gallacher (Neonatal GRID trainee, Wales) from work he conducted with the School of Child Health at Cardiff University looking at pro-inflammatory cascades in the Preterm lung. Presentations also included work on Ureaplasma treatment for Preterms, animal models looking at effects of different durations of mechanical ventilation on long term alveolar structure and the Forced Oscillatory Technique for real-time assessment of preterm baby’s lung mechanics. The afternoon had an excellent Paediatrics Year in Review session looking at the top literature from the last year, the highlight of which was Dr Ian Balfour-Lynn (Royal Brompton, London) presenting the last year’s work on Cystic Fibrosis disease modifying drugs like Ivacaftor and Orkambi.
The second day started with the Paediatric Grand Round where challenging cases and unusual diagnoses were presented and discussed, and this brought a good contrast to some of the talks from the first day on mechanistic and translational science. This as followed later in the day with a Lungs on Fire session where quick fire case presentations and questions were put to a panel of experts and the audience with the opportunity for us to vote along – this gave me confidence that some timers no-one knows what the right answer should be! Another session looked at the infectious causes of wheeze and asthma and our current knowledge in their manipulation. Talks included work on the microbiome of the upper airways, and our current evidence base for the treatment of pre-school wheeze, and it looks like Montelukast is out again! A running theme across the first two days was the quantity of work looking at azithromycin for the treatment of a range of conditions, and although lots of the evidence was convincing, I was occasionally left wondering if it’s the current fashionable treatment or a drug with further unexplored potential.
The second day ended with the paediatric dinner, which started with a boat trip down the Seine, followed by dinner at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. This was a great evening and opportunity to escape the conference venue. As much as I enjoy a good conference, the inside of a presentation hall is pretty much the same wherever you are, and it was nice to get out and see a little of the City of Lights. Dinner was interesting (the starter consisted of a mixture of tuna steak and strawberries…) but so was the opportunity to meet new people from across Europe and the world.
The last day (slightly tired!) we got in nice and early, mainly because our posters had to go up! After a coffee and a croissant, we headed to the first session on Prenatal Origins of Respiratory and Atopic Disorders which included data from the COPSAC (Copenhagen birth cohort) studies and animal models looking at how maternal smoking, and interestingly “vaping” may affect offspring into adult life. It also highlighted the scientific, economic and clinical difficulties in managing such large birth cohort studies and how replicating results can be challenging. Following this, we attended a session on Advances in Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia. This covered pathophysiology of this rare and little understood disease and highlighted how genetic are changing diagnosis. However, it was rightly pointed out after the presentations that, much as with Cystic Fibrosis, the phenotypic variance of these genotypes is still not clearly understood, and the continuing importance of expert interpretation of histological samples and formation of centres of excellence to manage this condition.
We ended the ERS by having a walk through the exhibitors hall. There was a great ‘Game Zone’ where we could play with video laryngoscopes, bronchoscope and thoracic ultrasounds and it was great to have a go with bits of kits that we’d seen or heard about but had little experience with. Tutors were on hand thankfully to guide us through the finer details! We also had a look through the commercial and pharmaceutical exhibition areas, which looked more like a new car show at times (not sure a hologram is really required to advertise an inhaler) and there was a paucity of the free pens, but there were plenty of places to sit and have a quiet five minutes, which was much needed by this point!
Overall, the ERS Congress was a fantastic experience. Definitely the best organised, highest quality, best value meeting I’ve ever been to, and would thoroughly recommend to anyone with a respiratory interest.
Next year the congress is heading to Madrid, check out www.ersnet.org for more information
Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management Wales Regional Conference 2018
13th September 2018
Dr Rebecca Broomfield
While I have completed my year as a Welsh Clinical Leadership Fellow (Blog post teaser … more on that in Novembers posts!) I still very much have an interest in leadership and how we can rise to the current challenges facing the National Health Service. Therefore I was excited to learn that the FMLM were hosting a conference just up the road in Cardiff.
It was a heavily packed program and the day flew by in a flash. The FMLM Chief Executive Mr Peter Lees spoke to us about the aims and targets of FMLM and how they plan to achieve this.
He was followed by Wales' very own Chief Medical Officer Dr Frank Atherton who opened with "If we don't seize the opportunity as medical leaders …. who will?" He emphasised the need for whole system change not jus on an individual level and that as an NHS in Wales we do not simply need more. We need to harness ideas and bring them together. We need to keep patient safety at the centre of everything we do and bring those who resist change with us through the changes which need to occur.
Following the CMO is always a tough gig but it was managed superbly by Dr David Samuel (A fellow Leadership Fellow Alumni) and Dr Sian Lewis. They reminded us of the need for diversity in the workplace and within medical leadership teams. They asked us to do a tabletop exercise to emphasise this point. Each member of the team picked a O or a X card. We were not able to tell each other which symbol we were. Then everybody shut their eyes and the X's were instructed to open their eyes and read the instructions. The task was to plan a holiday but to do so without giving any value or time to the O members of your table. Then the O's reopened their eyes and the task of organising a holiday was given to the table. I was an X. It was incredibly difficult to ignore and not give value to peoples suggestions. It felt awkward and non productive to an effective team working environment. The O's felt undervalued, and eventually gave up suggesting things and went off into their own discussion, effectively planning a whole other holiday. The exercise was trivial but raised a good point - are you really inclusive in your leadership? Do you consciously or unconsciously bias against somebody and importantly how does that effect the team.
Post a quick coffee stop we heard from Mr Nigel Edwards (Chief executive, Nuffield Trust) about integrated care and Dame Clare Marx (Current Chair of FMLM, former President of the Royal College of Surgeons, soon to be Chair of the GMC and a dynamic powerful woman) She spoke about the importance of clinical leadership and the fact that we need to change. She suggested that we need to exchange hierarchy for connectivity and that clinical leadership can impact to increase quality, social performance and make financial gains. She believes that positivity has a big impact on your team and that we have a responsibility to coach clinical leaders and help people to develop themselves.
Following this we had the unique opportunity to have a panel discussion on current leadership challenges and how we can embrace them and continue to move forward within Wales. We asked for their key Leadership message:
Dr Frank Atherton - To use management experience from outside of Medicine and promote interdisciplinary working.
Dame Clare Marx - The only thing you can control in life is yourself, the way you work and the way you behave. Understand what it is you have the ability to control.
Mr Nigel Edwards - Connect what feels real, we are missing a narrative "tell a story"
After lunch we were encouraged by Ms Katie Laugharne (Head of Welsh affairs at the GMC) and Dr Madhu Kannan (Current Welsh Clinical Leadership Fellow within the GMC) to think about Leadership expectations and impact. How the things you do day to day have an impact and how small things, like tea!, can really matter. We were encourage to think about how our leadership style was viewed by members of our teams and if that was the way we wanted it to be.
After a quick coffee break we learnt from Mr Christian Servini about what the future generations act was enabling people to do in Wales and the impact this was having on Well-being. Then to end the day a quick fire 5 minute presentation round where we heard about improvement projects which were having an impact around Wales. My project (poster below) was one of those presented.
If you are at all interested in Clinical Leadership I would encourage you to take a look at the FMLM website and consider going to the annual conference. Leaders in Healthcare details of this can be found here: https://www.fmlm.ac.uk/events/leaders-in-healthcare-2018
Dr Annabel Greenwood ST3
This is the first (hopefully of many!) of a new blog feature entitled ‘a day in the life of….’
Rebecca and I thought the blog would provide an excellent platform to share experiences of various opportunities and achievements, including paediatric speciality medicine posts, and out-of-programme experiences, both academic and non-medicine related, inspiring readers to explore something new to enhance and enrich their paediatric training.
It gives me great pleasure to debut this new blog feature by sharing my experiences of paediatric oncology. Having just completed my 6-month ST3 post, there is absolutely no question that I would recommend it to my fellow trainees! I hope by the end of reading this blog some of the misnomers associated with the world of paediatric oncology will have been dispelled.
Now, I’ll be completely honest with you…when I was first given ‘paediatric oncology’ as my ST3 rotation, I was a little apprehensive to say the least. My previous exposure to oncology had been only brief encounters during out-of-hours speciality cover, treading water until handover. The complexity of the patients, the mind-field of chemotherapy regimens, and the ‘sick’ potential of the febrile neutropaenia patients is enough to induce a resting tachycardia just thinking about it right?! Let alone managing such situations!
Fast forward 6 months, and my feelings as I walk onto the ward each morning couldn’t be further from that overwhelming uncertainty at the outset. And these are just some of the reasons why;
1. Teamwork: The MDT on the paediatric ward is truly wonderful and you feel part of the ‘family’ in no time. The nurses and nurse specialists know everything about their patients and chemotherapy regimens, and are always happy to help, the play specialists have an incredible way of boosting morale and making what can sometimes feel impossible, possible, and the consultants are very ‘hands-on,’ supportive and approachable. I sometimes don’t know where I’d be without the knowledge and advice of the pharmacists, not to mention to the wonderful physios, dieticians, and psychologists.
2. Variety: There is no denying that paediatric oncology is one of the busiest jobs in the hospital. The days can be relentless and sometimes it feels like you spend hours sorting the smallest of tasks, yet it’s often the smallest things that can make the biggest difference to both patients and their families. No two days are the same, from daybed reviews to the ward management of both haematology and oncology inpatients…every day brings new challenges and experiences.
3. Organisational/management skills: New patients often need investigations and procedures sorting quickly, involving liaison with the anaesthetists, surgeons and radiologists. There is a weekly ‘lines list’ to be coordinated for insertion/removal of portacaths/hickmann lines, and there is a weekly ‘planning meeting’ to discuss and arrange patients to be admitted for chemotherapy, investigations or procedures.
4. Practical procedures: There is a small theatre room on the ward for the weekly list of bone marrow aspirates, lumbar punctures and intrathecal chemotherapy. This is primarily led by the consultants and registrars.
5. The management of sick kids: Oncology and haematology patients have the potential to get really sick, quickly. Neutropaenic patients on chemotherapy can become profoundly septic, and sickle cell patients can present in an acute crisis. Coordinating the management of such patients although stressful, is excellent preparation for transitioning to middle grade training. There are protocols for the management of various situations, and as mentioned previously, there is always support provided by the consultant.
6. Emotional aspect: One of my principal anxieties before starting the rotation was how to handle the emotional aspect of the job. Of course, there can be devastating situations where treatment is unsuccessful, however, the kids are incredible, so resilient and courageous, and certainly serve to put things into perspective. Many of the children return to the ward on a regular basis for reviews and chemotherapy, so you really get to know the children and their families, and play a significant part along their treatment ‘journey.’
Of course like most jobs there can be days where there is no spring in my step along the ward, however, the positives far outweigh the negatives, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience such a truly wonderful job.
If you've done a unique job and want to share your experiences as a blog post then email either Rebecca or Annabel to share different experiences.
Dr Rebecca Broomfield