Sunday, 28 June 2015

New horizons...


In the next few months I will be leaving my post as a clinical lecturer and academic lead for elearning in the undergraduate medical course in Cardiff University to become a primary care clinical director in Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

I am absolutely delighted that I will be joining a fantastic clinical leadership team (including Sally Lewis and Alastair Roeves) and having the chance to participate in many different levels of the health board's work to help make sure that we can deliver sustainable primary health care.

Many years ago I didn't know whether I wanted to be a GP or a public health physician. I had a wonderful GP trainer in Belfast,  Fergus Donaghy, who is I think still the most committed clinician educators that I have ever met. But I was still uncertain so I came to Bristol to do a six month SHO job in public health in Avon Health Authority. After a few months working in public health I realised that I did not want to leave clinical work behind.

A chance came to join the Department of General Practice in the then University of Wales College of Medicine in an innovative new Academic Fellow scheme with the twin aims of developing general practice in the South Wales valleys and also developing young academic GPs.  I decided not to return to Northern Ireland My head of department was Professor Helen Houston, who is still a wonderful colleague, and has provided much support to me in the last 13 years.

In Wales I was very lucky to meet and work in Professor Jonathan Richard's practice in Merthyr Tyfdil. In his incredibly generous and nurturing way, when Jonathan realised that I was interested in Public Health he invited me to come along to one of the meetings of a Public Health and Primary Care Steering group of the Welsh Assembly. It helped me to realise that my interests in primary care and public health could sit well together and shortly afterwards I started my Masters in Public Health.

I then moved to Gelligaer Practice and have worked there as a salaried GP ever since.  Kathrin Thomas was also a big inspiration to me. Welsh, she moved back from Liverpool to work with us and always managed to keep a balance between the perspectives of caring for individual patients and for populations in her work. It wasn't really a surprise when she later trained as a public health specialist, and she is now lead for public health primary care in Public Health Wales.

Gradually I became more involved in medical education in the medical school which merged with Cardiff University in 2004. For the past few years as we have been developing a new curriculum I got to use my interest in the use of tech to develop our use of technology in the course.

Back in 2008 I started my social media journey with this blog and a twitter account. I have learnt so very much from those I have met online and face-to-face in this time. I will be very sorry to leave my good colleagues throughout Cardiff University but as Bon Stewart writes these days our membership of academic networks does not have to depend on membership of institutions.

In short, I am very lucky because when I was a medical student a role with the scope of a primary care clinical director in Wales, and which would allow me to continue working as a GP, did not exist. But if it did I would have aimed to get here.  And I am very lucky to have been able to work with many wonderful people through the university, and to learn and share my learning with people all over the world through social media. Thank you every one!

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