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21 April 2023
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Five key lessons on community and why it’s our focus in 2023

Building community in leadership landscape image

by Angus Waite Head of Professional Services and Innovation

Eid Mubarak! On behalf of everyone at FMLM I want to warmly wish all of our Muslim friends and colleagues a happy festival. Today feels like an auspicious day to discuss community, and it is with that in mind that I want to draw from some of my personal experiences and discuss why community is such a big focus for the Faculty this year.

Community is a core thread that has run through my life. Growing up in a small rural village in Scotland community affected everything - from the very positive sense that problems in the village are shared and tackled together, with friendliness and good humour, to the challenges that those who don’t fit a certain mould may experience. 

Moving to London gave a tremendous sense of freedom, but that freedom came with the, often-cited, feeling of a lack of community and what I might call ‘low-key support’. This could come simply from the friendly waves and nods you might experience walking around back home. I was one of a handful of individuals who set up the London LGBTQ Community Centre in Blackfriars for exactly this reason. 

Providing those friendly waves and nods, a cup of tea and a bit of advice, means so much to those who are under pressure, and feeling low or alienated. We all rely on these support measures, and with the challenges you are all facing in healthcare at the moment they are needed, and appreciated, more than ever. 

Of course the point is that community does not only exist within one village. The ties that bond us have as much to do with shared experience as they do a shared location, and it is with this knowledge that we look to really amp up our focus on creating that sense of community within the FMLM membership. 

With that in mind, here are five key lessons on community and why it’s our focus for the rest of 2023:

  1. Collaboration

Just as the muddy and unwalkable ‘North Common Path’ back home required a group of locals to come together, agree a common goal and tackle it, so do we benefit from bringing people together to solve problems and work on solutions -  it just so happens that in healthcare they usually require more than a few tonnes of woodchip and willing hands! For that reason we are shortly launching a series of events focused on particular problems you are all facing, with the aim of producing collaboration and shared learning across regional and national boundaries.

  1. Support

You are all facing challenging and stressful situations, often weekly and sometimes daily. A strong community provides emotional support, practical support such as mentoring, and a safe space for individuals to share their experiences. At the London LGBTQ centre we have received wonderful feedback about the support groups we have developed for parents of children struggling with their sexuality and identity. Expect to see invitations to virtual meet-ups for groups of the FMLM membership with shared professional and personal experiences to provide exactly this kind of safe space to vent, discuss issues and support one another.

  1. Knowledge sharing

You don’t need me to tell you that in healthcare, information is constantly evolving and we, as professionals, must stay up to date on the latest developments as well as learn wise lessons from those with more experience than ourselves.  BMJ Leader, our journal, continues to go from strength to strength, and I strongly encourage you to take the time to login using your FMLM membership details and check out the latest articles. Similarly, we are already in the early stages of planning our upcoming conferences. Look out for more on our research activities soon, and do continue to login to FMLM Navigator to find useful CPD tuned to your particular role.

  1. Diversity

There is a case to be made for the LGBTQ community being the most diverse community of all - encompassing as it does those of all faiths, nationalities, races, gender identities and sexualities. This is wonderful, but also challenging. Creating a space that is both familiar and meaningful for all is no mean feat and a constant work in progress. Healthcare as a community faces the same challenge. We at FMLM are making strides to improve our work in this area. As an example of this I wish to strongly commend FMLM Senior Fellow Dr Sarah Schofield for leading efforts around women within the FMLM Fellowship. We know there is more to do in this regard and in other areas as we work towards creating that environment where all of the varied faces, experiences and voices within healthcare leadership are represented and heard.

  1. Leadership development

We all know that leadership is critical to the success of healthcare organisations. A community within a trust, practice or system can provide opportunities for leadership development in both structured but also spontaneous ways. Our medical director Dr Paul Evans and I recently visited an FMLM Affiliated Organisation and sat down with two clinical leads, fresh from an FMLM Applied programme. While they enthused about the development they received from Applied, there was a frustration that their new skills were not being recognised within the trust. As community is so vital to the ethos of FMLM Affiliation, we immediately recognised the need to bring these enthusiastic clinicians into further meetings that day, and they left with opportunities including board shadowing and a potentially fascinating quality improvement project. You never know where the trust and familiarity that comes with community might lead in terms of finding new talent, and developing motivated team members.

Do please look out for invitations to virtual meet-ups and other events coming your way over the next few months and don’t forget to sign up for the FMLM mentoring programme. There is no obligation to take on mentors or mentees, but simply by signing up I am convinced you will find a fascinating array of people with shared goals and concerns, and a convenient way to connect and learn from one another.

I wish all of you in the FMLM community a happy week!

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