Saturday, 24 October 2015

Initial thoughts on the #agents4c conference today

So back on the train again, this time heading through Buckinghamshire. Having seem the scrum for the standard class end of the train, I've paid for the weekend first upgrade for some space, quiet and free drinks. The fact the car is waiting in Glasgow means these will be tea coffee or juice but even so it beats the alternative. 

So how was it you may ask.  Well agents for change, #agents4c to use its Twitter hashtag, was potentially one of those days that you remember for a long time.  Alongside my first day in anaesthetics and a medical student, or my first day in resist when suddenly everything clicked. This was what I'd been missing, or at least it filled the Part that had been empty.  

Inspiring speakers aplenty, including the two first up in the morning, who made the greatest impression on me I think. 

  • the measured tones of Sir Bruce Keogh and his challenge to be the intellectual capital of the NHS and to take best practice with us as we rotate between different hospitals during our training. He exhorted us to maintain our professionalism, no matter what may happen because that professionalism gives us the authority to lead change and to change for the benefit of patients. 
  • the moving story of the Morcambe Bay scandal told by James Titcombe, reporting on the greater role now given to patient safety in NHS trusts, the duty of candour and the need to learn from adverse events, both personally and on a systems basis.  To offer staff incentives for reporting 'near misses' and to challenge the cultures of fear and compliance and instead strive for safety and improvement. 

That is not to suggest the other speakers were poor, merely that these two struck home, perhaps due to personal experiences which they shared. Both emphasised the courage required to challenge seniors and managers when we feel things are not right. 

Other speakers focuses on the more practical aspects of simulation and situational awareness, the role of leadership and quality improvement within postgraduate medical education and how to make QI a part of everyday working life. In the words of Emma Vaux, quoting  Bruce Keogh, we have two jobs A) our day job and B) how to do that job better. 

Peter Lees, from FMLM talking about how we should be killing ourselves to be the leaders of the future spoke of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world we face, and that this is unlikely to change, we should be upskilling ourselves to have the skills for this world.  We should aim that we are developing skills for the next role, and the next challenge, no matter what level we are at. Thus when we enter that role we need some fear keen be to grow into and thus carry ourselves with a maturity that befits the role we hope to move into. 

So in summary, a stimulating and inspiring day, a bargain in terms of the cost of the day vs the benefit I can take from it. And the chance to put some faces and real personalities to their Twitter names. Sometimes just meeting enthusiastic fellow trainees is all you need to give you back the fire for your career.  

Take home summary for me:
Health is about people  delivering care to other people. We should be able to explain all that we are doing, and we should be honest & transparent with families, team players with our colleagues and positive in the face of adversity, overcoming our own fears in all that we do. 

Peter Lees left us at the end of his talk with the following thought (I paraphrase)
'The future is created, not found, or chosen from a range of alternatives.' 

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