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1 October 2021
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Looking forward to a year of transformational change

Dr Claire Edwin and Miss Elizabeth Gonzalez Malaga

Two trainees beginning national clinical fellowships in medicine and in dentistry each share the reasons behind their aspirations to follow this unique leadership pathway, in a year earmarked for change.


By Dr Claire EdwinFMLM member and Douglas Fellow, National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellow at NHS England and Improvement, and FMLM 2021/22

I am thrilled to embark on the National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellow Scheme (NMDCFS) this year, working with NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) and FMLM. For me, this is a unique opportunity to experience two different organisations: working in the emergency planning and incident response team in NHSE and I, and with FMLM, who have produced and managed this incredible scheme for 10 years, while developing as the ‘go to’ organisation for the development and representation of doctors in healthcare leadership and management.

I have just spent an intense two years as a core surgical trainee, working not only in surgery but also in medicine and critical care throughout the pandemic, so, I am looking forward to this year with a mix of trepidation and excitement, which I imagine my fellow clinical fellows are experiencing too.

Having witnessed the frustration of some of my senior colleagues at the lack of agency and autonomy in decision-making in their departments and organisations, I had growing concerns that there are very few opportunities to gain experience and understanding of health service leadership and management before becoming a very senior trainee or consultant.

I first heard about FMLM at an academic foundation programme conference in 2018 and joined as a member. I then heard about the NMDCFS when I was giving a talk to foundation doctors about my FY3 role with Raleigh International in 2019. My talk focused on my experiences of working with young people as a volunteer manager in national parks, and trekking across Costa Rica as an expedition medic, but the following speaker was a NMDCFS alumni sharing his experiences of the scheme, and from that point on my interest was sparked. It sounded like the perfect opportunity to gain that experience of working at an organisational level.

I hope by working with NHS England and Improvement, I will gain greater insight about how decisions are made and how the clinical workforce respond to challenges. As I have taken up a split role, I will also be part of the FMLM team where I will witness first-hand the work to improve leadership and management experience and development throughout the medical career.

I am looking forward to the protected time to learn from and collaborate with my new colleagues and supervisors across a wide array of backgrounds. I also look forward to these experiences equipping me with the fundamental skills and knowledge to take into my clinical practice and future working environments.

Aside from the expectation of feeling like a fish out of water for at least a few weeks, I am aware of all the positive feedback about the scheme and that a challenging and rewarding year lies ahead.

By Miss Elizabeth Gonzalez MalagaChief Dental Officer’s Clinical Fellow at the General Dental Council 2021/22

After years of postgraduate training, sharpening up my clinical expertise and recently completing specialty training in special care dentistry, I decided this was the right time in my career to further develop my leadership and management skills. Balancing a busy clinical schedule while getting involved in non-clinical projects is strenuous; this is why FMLM, along with host partner organisations, provide us with this unique opportunity to fully focus on our development as future healthcare leaders – it is an opportunity I am grabbing with both hands as I begin a year with the General Dental Council (GDC).

I am joining the GDC policy and research team at a period of unprecedented change: reforms to the legislative framework of healthcare professional regulators, and a transformation of the workforce as a consequence of Covid-19 and Brexit, the latter being a topic of great interest to me as an EU graduate.

Transformational changes are at the core of our health and social care system, which is responding to the continuous variations of our population As clinicians, we implement changes, but we are rarely involved in the early stages of transformation at large scale. This clinical fellowship will give me the opportunity to broaden my perspective of health and social care beyond dentistry; to recognise the correlation between all stakeholders and understand how large-scale transformation occurs. Likewise, I hope my experience and perspective as a clinician proves useful to non-clinical colleagues and supports the work of multi-disciplinary teams within the organisation, ultimately benefiting patients.

I look forward to my clinical fellowship providing me with a blank canvas to fill with unlimited opportunities, experiences, connections and skills, such as a negotiation, strategic thinking and policy making. These skills will be invaluable as I pursue my joint passions: integration of oral health within general health and healthcare equality for people with disabilities. I am hugely excited to discover what the next 12 months will bring.

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