Who are we?
This society has been formed by a core group of clinical year medical students at the University of Birmingham. We are hoping that lots more healthcare students at UoB will join us soon. This society is open to any student who has a keen interest in healthcare management – Nurse, physio, BMedSc, Medical student, Business student, dentist and pharmacist are all welcome.
Why do we exist?
Healthcare has become more complex. To ensure that patient’s receive the most effective treatments then healthcare services need to be organised effectively. This might be your role one day and you won’t receive any formal training in management theory or on team working and leadership skills from the University – knowledge that is essential to providing the best care for our patients.
Studies have shown that clinicians who have received management training and who take an active role in managing the departments they belong to have achieved significantly decreased complication and mortality rates.
What do we plan to do?
1) Raise awareness amongst healthcare students about the opportunities to be involved in healthcare management in their future careers.
2) The society hopes to act as an intermediary between healthcare students keen to make contacts with likeminded individuals in other course and years. We intend to have regular social events that allow everyone to practice their essential networking skills while at discussions over coffee, nights out, games of golf or away day visits to conferences and organisational visits.
3) The society will be holding lectures given by eminent professionals from all areas of healthcare management – The NHS, DoH, Armed forces, private organisations, think tanks, consultancy firms and leading researchers.
4) The society aims to help students foster essential leadership and team working skills that will be required in their future professional roles. These skills will be developed informally and during seminars and workshops. These skills will then be put to the test in high stress situations like Paintballing, laser tag and outdoor activities.
5) The final main aim of this society is to help students make contacts with clinicians and researchers who are working on improving healthcare systems and who need healthcare students to help with research. We hope to develop a network of contacts who are willing to provide research and audit opportunities to keen students.
Are you interested in joining the Birmingham Students Medical Leadership Society?
Then please email the committee at: email@example.com
Or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/676838225676202/
Or come find us at the MedSoc Freshers fair in September.
The Student medical leadership society (SMiLeS) useful resources!!!
Why is it important?
student BMJ 2012;345:e5319
Foundation year opportunities
Future career opportunities
Free Learning/ Relevant organisations
Did you know that you may not just work for the NHS, but also help to run it? The new Medical Leadership Society aims to foster leadership skills in healthcare students through talks from NHS leaders, the DoH and even the Armed Forces.
We provide a way for you to learn about being a leader and influencing policies in the NHS, and our talks and events will serve as an excellent platform for you to start making influential contacts within areas that interest you. You’ll also practice those leadership skills in an array of activities, including paintballing and laser tag!
Does the NHS really need saving?
Your first question may be ‘does the NHS really need saving?’, and I would have to answer with an emphatic ‘Yes’. April this year sees the official start of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the key component of The Health and Social Care Act, one of the biggest changes the NHS has seen. Amongst other things these organisations are tasked with saving the NHS £20 billion in the next 3 years by means of ‘efficiency changes’, despite the Institute of Fiscal Studies saying that the NHS needs to be spending £20 billion more each year by 2020. A daunting task but even more so in the light of the recently published Francis Report, where failings at Stafford Hospital have highlighted the need for compassionate patient care to be at the centre of all decisions. All of this has to be achieved in the largest publically funded health service in the world, which employs 1.7 million staff and serves more than 62 million people, with an annual budget of £106 billion (2011/12).
So is it the solution?
Clearly technology cannot be the only solution to this problem but I believe technology is pivotal in achieving the ‘efficiency changes’ desired. This might be direct use of technology to improve efficiency or may indirectly provide the intelligence that can drive non-technology based efficiencies; and if technology can be used to save clinicians time this can be reinvested into improving patient care. The NHS already has or is working on a number of national scale IT projects that could bring efficiency savings such as choose and book, electronic prescription service and map of medicine to name but a few. Newer and more localised projects include telehealth, clinical decision tools, remote working, the use of social media and real time patient data analysis. Yet many of these ideas, though new to the NHS, have been employed in business for many years. The NHS needs to catch up and then to further innovate. We need clinicians, managers and IT developers to work together if we are to be successful.
Such change is not without its challenges and the size and complexity of the NHS makes implementation of change difficult. Patient safety and confidentiality has to be paramount but these create practical and technical barriers to development. I have just completed Connecting for Health’s Clinical Safety Training and there are some formidable hurdles to development and implementation of new IT systems in the NHS (ISB0129 and ISB0160). Procurement in the NHS is a beast of its own that I wouldn’t claim to understand but the processes are complex potentially making it difficult for small developers. The necessity of financial savings means the best solutions are not always chosen, even though that can be false economy in the long run. Yet we must not let these barriers stop us from seeking to employ technology for the good of clinicians and patients. We must not let them stifle innovation or be frustrated by what can be a slow process at times. The NHS recognises some of these issues and is working to try to help small businesses negotiate these obstacles.
I hope in a series of posts in coming months to look in more detail at some of the technologies currently being used in the NHS, as well as emerging projects, and the opportunities and problems that surround them. I may stray occasionally into statistics or politics if you can cope with that! I am a practicing clinician with fingers in many pies so the frequency of my postings is likely to be inversely proportional to the workload I face! Comments are always welcome but I may not always reply in a timely manner.
Hello & Welcome!
You may have already read my blog on 'My Top 5 Tips to use Social Media to Improve your Medical Education' and if so you will have an idea of what 'Social Media' is and how it can be harnessed to improve medical education. There are also features that could improve health promotion and communication but today I would like to focus on where we have to be careful with these resources.
In my last blog I circumnavigated the drawbacks of social media in medicine so that I could give them the full attention they deserve in their own blog today. But its not all doom and gloom! I also hope to give you a brief overview of the current social media guidance that is available to doctors and medical students and how we can minimise the risks associated with representing ourselves online.
But firstly, what actually is social media and why do i keep blogging about it? If you are new here I recommend giving 'Social Media' a quick google, but the phrase basically includes any website where the user (i.e. you) can upload information and interact with other users. Thats a definition of the top of my head, so don't hold me to it, but most people would agree that this definition includes the classic examples of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin etc, but there are many many more. These sites are important to us as (future) health professionals because they can be both used and unfortunately abused. However, several medical bodies including the General Medical Council and the Royal College of General Practitioners agree that these resources are here to stay and they shouldn't (and probably couldn't) be excommunicated. With this in mind, there has been much guidance on the topic, but as you are about to find out a lot of it is common sense and your own personal discretion.
Before you read on, I'd like to forewarn you that I try and keep things lighthearted with this topic. I'll hope you can excuse my levity of the situation, especially if any of the original authors of these guidelines end up reading this post. But as I am sure you are aware, this is a dry topic and hard to digest without the odd joke or two...
British Medical Association - Using Social Media: practical and ethical guidance for doctors and medical
The BMA guidance is the earliest guidance originating from a major medical body that i've come across. That said, I have not done a proper literature review of the subject. This is a blog, not a dissertation. But still, the BMA gives an early and brief summary of the problems facing health professionals using social media. Key points such as patient confidentiality, personal privacy, defamation, copyright and online professionalism are covered and therefore it is a nice starting point. It is also quite a short document, which may appeal to those who are less feverent on the subject.
On the other hand, I personally feel that the BMA guidance does social media an injustice by not going into the great benefits these resources can yield. There are also no really practical tips or solutions for the drawbacks they've highlighted to students.
Read it for yourself here or just google 'BMA Guidance Social Media'
Royal College of General Practitioners - Social Media Highway Code
The RCGP guidelines are my favourite. After a cheesy introduction likening the social media surge with the dawn of the automobile they then take a turn for the worse by trying to continue the metaphor further by sharing a 'Social Media Highway Code'. Their Top 10 Tips that form the majority of the code don't look to be much more than common sense. However, each chapter there after dissects each of their recommendations in great detail and provides practical tips on how to make the most from social media whilst protecting yourself from the issues raised above.
As I mentioned earlier, the RCGP recognise the inevitability of social media and they acknowledge this in the better part of their introduction. They make a great point that older doctors have a responsibility to become technologically savvy, whereas younger doctors who have grown up engrossed in social networking probably have to develop their professionalism skills more than their older colleagues (I'm aware this is a generalising statement). Either way, the RCGP highlight that everyone has something to take away from this set of guidelines.
Read it for yourself here or google; 'RCGP Social Media Guidance,' but be warned, this is one of the more lengthy documents available on the topic.
General Medical Council - Doctor's Use of Social Media
The GMC guidance kicks off with a little summary of the relevant bits of 'Good Medical Practice.' Again, nothing much that isn't common sense. That being said, they then go on to write that 'Serious or persistent failure to follow this guidance will put your registration at risk,' which sounds ominous and probably warrants a quick flick through (do it now! - the PDF is at the bottom of their page).
Reassuringly, the GMC does not try and place a blanket ban on social media. They give a 'tip of the hat' to the benefits of social media and then go on to outline all the drawbacks as many of the guidance already has. Asides from the issue of anonymity there is really nothing new covered and the GMC actually gives a lot of autonomy to doctors and medical students. However, the GMC are, in many ways, who we ultimately answer to and so you would be a fool not to revisit the issues they cover in their version of the guidance.
As I mentioned, the GMC brought online anonymity to the forefront of our minds. Should we, shouldn't we? A lot of health professionals believe that the human right to a private life extends to the right to have anonymity online. However, before we go into this any further lets take a closer look at what the GMC actually says...
If you identify yourself as a doctor in publicly accessible social media, you should also identify yourself by name. Any material written by authors who represent themselves as doctors is likely to be taken on trust and may reasonably be taken to represent the view of the profession more widely.
As you can see, the use of the phrase 'Should also identify yourself by name' gives some room for manoeuvre and is a world apart from what could have been written (i.e. you must). To those who believe their human rights are being infringed, perhaps a solution is to stop identifying yourself as a doctor online, although I appreciate this can be difficult if you are tagged in certain things. There are a number of good points why doctors shouldn't be anonymous online and it is certainly a must if you are in the trade of offering health promotion via the world wide web. However, I can see the point of those who want to remain anonymous for comical or satirical purposes. A quick google of the topic will reveal that the GMC has said that they do not envisage fitness to practice issues arising from doctors remaining anonymous online, but from the temptations that arise from running an anonymous profile such as cyber-bullying and misinformation.
Read the GMC guidance yourself here.
National Health Service (Health Education) - Social Media in Education
The NHS-HE guidelines are high quality and cover the entire scope of what social media means to medicine. There are several key issues that I haven't encountered elsewhere. This set of guidance is written from a managerial, technical perspective. It doesn't really feel aimed at doctors or medical students but it gives such an overview of the subject that I thought it was worth including.
If you feel brave enough, read it for yourself here.
To my knowledge, these are the current key guidelines for the use of social media in medicine. I hope you have found this blog useful in providing a quick summary of a topic that is becoming increasingly swamped with lengthy guidelines. In the future we need to see material produced or delivered that educates health professionals in how to use social media, rather than regurgitating the pros and cons every couple of months. I think webicina is a good example of a social media 'training course,' . There should be more material like this. Perhaps this is where I'm headed with my next project...
As always, if you have anything to add to this blog, please feel free to add to the comments below. I will be able to take difficult queries forwards with me to the Doctors 2.0 conference next week! If you are a student and interested in coming to the conference in Paris next week you should get in contact with me directly (@LFarmery on twitter).
Also, it would be a great help if you could fill out my very quick pilot survey to help me understand how doctors and medical students currently use social media.
Also see my website Occipital Designs
The thoughts and feelings expressed here are those produced by my own being and are not representative in part or whole of any organisation or company. Occipital Designs is a rather clunky, thinly veiled, pseudonym. If you would like to contact me please do so on Twitter...
Thanks to those who read my last post. I was encouraged to hear from my colleagues at Med school that the post sounded very positive and hopefully. A few of them queried whether I had actually written it because there was a noticeable lack of sarcasm or criticism.
So... the following posts may be a bit different. A little warning - some of what I post may be me playing "Devil's advocate" because I believe that everything should be questioned and sparking debate is a good way of making us all evaluate what we truly think on a subject.
With no further a do, let's get on to the subject of today's post ....
An Introduction to Clinical Medicine
The previous year was my first as a clinical med student. Before we started I naively thought that we would be placed in helpful, encouraging environments that would support us in our learning, so that we were able to maximize our clinical experience. My hope was that there would be lots of enthusiastic doctors willing to teach, a well organised teaching schedule and admin staff that would be able to help us with any difficulties. I hoped these would all be in place so that WE medical students could be turned from a bunch of confused, under-grad science students into the best junior doctors we could possibly be.
It seems that medical school and the NHS have a very different opinion of what clinical medical teaching should be like. What they seem to want us to do is 1) listen to the same old health and safety lecture at least twice a term, 2) re-learn how to wash our hands every 4 weeks, 3) Practicing signing our name on a register - even when this is completely pointless because there are no staff at the hospital anyway because the roads are shut with 10 inches of snow most of the time, 4) Master the art of filling in forms that no one will ever look at or use in anyway that is productive, 5) STAY OUT OF THE WAY OF THE BUSY STAFF because we are useless nuisances who spread MRSA and C.Dif where ever we go! How we all learn medicine and pass our exams is any ones guess!
Undergraduate Co-Ordinators - Why won't you make life easier for us?
While at my last placement I was elected as the 3rd year student representative for that hospital. While I was fulfilling that role it got me wondering what it is that Under-grad Co-Ordinators actually do? I thought this may be an interesting topic of debate.
1) Who are they and how qualified are they?
2) what is their job description and what are they supposed to be doing?
3) Are they a universal phenomena? or have they just evolved within the West Midlands?
4) Does anyone know an under-grad Co-Ordinator (UC - not ulcerative colitis) who has actually been more benefit than nuisance?
1) UC's as a species are generally female, middle aged, motherly types who like to colonize obscure offices in far flung corners of NHS training hospitals. They can normally be found in packs or as they are locally known "A Confusion of co-ordinators". How are they qualified? I have absolutely no idea, but I am guessing not degrees in Human Resource Development.
2)I am fairly certain what their job should involve: 1) be a friendly supportive face for the poor medical students; 2) organise a series of lectures; 3) organise the medical students into teaching firms with enthusiastic consultants who are happy to give them regular teaching; 4) ensure the students are taught clinical skills so that they can progress to being competent juniors; 5) be a point of contact for when any students are experiencing difficulties in their hospital and hopefully help them to rectify those problems to aid their learning.
What do they actually do? It seems to be a mystery. I quite regularly receive emails that say that I wasn't in hospital on a certain day, when I was in fact at another hospital that they specifically sent me to on that day. I often receive emails saying that my lectures are cancelled just as I have driven for over an hour through rush hour traffic to attend. I sometimes receive emails saying that I, specifically, am the cause of the whole hospitals MRSA infection because I once wore a tie.
I never receive emails saying that such and such a doctor is happy to teach me. I never receive emails with lecture slides attached to them so that I can revise said lectures in time for an exam. I NEVER receive any emails with anything useful in them that has been sent by a UC!
Questions 3 and 4, I have no idea what the answers are but would be genuinely pleased to hear people's responses.
The reason I have written this blog is that, these people have frustrated my colleagues and I all year. I am sure they are integral to our learning in some way and I am sure that they could be very useful to us, but at the moment I just cannot say that they are as useful as they should be.
To any NHS manager/ medical educator out their I make this plea
I am more than happy to give up 2 weeks of my life to shadow some UC to see what it is they do. In essence I want to audit what it is they do on a day to day basis and work out if they are a cost-effective use of the NHS budget? I want to investigate what it is they spend their time on and how many students they help during a day? I would like someone with a fresh pair of eyes to go into those obscure offices and see if they can find any way of improving the systems so that future generations of medical students do not have to relive the inefficiencies that we have lived through. I want the system to be improved for everyone's sake.
OR if you won't let a medical student audit the process, could you manager's at least send your UC's to learn from other hospitals where things are done better! If we (potential future) doctors have to live by the rule of EVIDENCED BASED MEDICINE, why shouldn't the admin staff live by a similar rule of EVIDENCED BASED ADMINISTRATION? Share good ideas, learn from the best, always look for improvements rather than keep the same old inefficient, pointless systems year after year.
My final point on the subject - at the end of every term we have to fill in long feedback forms on what we thought of the hospital and the teaching. I know for a fact that most of those forms contain huge amounts of criticism - a lot of which was written exactly the same the year before! So, they are collecting all of this feedback and yet nothing seems to change in some hospitals. It all just seems such a pointless waste.
Take away thought for the day.
By auditing and improving the efficiency, of the admin side of an undergraduate medical education, I would hope the system as a whole would be improved and hence better, more knowledgeable, less cynical, less bitter, less stressed junior doctors would be produced as a result. Surely, that is something that everyone involved in medical education should be aiming for.
Who is watching (and assessing) the watchers!