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18 March 2013
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Spotlight on Lola Loewenthal

Describe your role as TSG Chair in one sentence …

To help guide the TSG so that we empower trainees to drive the leadership agenda, develop their skills and ultimately improve patient care.

What are the main challenges and how do you overcome them?

Managing a team of 50 people and co-ordinating all our projects can be challenging, however the workstream structure and Workstream Leads allow us to bring ideas together.

How do you want the TSG to develop in future?

We need to make sure that we are able to identify what trainees on the ground need and help them deliver it.  I see the Regional Trainee Representatives as key in helping us to ensure that the FMLM opens up doors for trainees. The TSG play a key role in the direction of the FMLM and I hope for that to remain one of our key functions.

Why did you join the Clinical Fellow Scheme?

I have always been interested in health policy and how more than just the individual clinical encounter can influence healthcare.  I saw the Clinical Fellow Scheme as an opportunity to equip me with a greater understanding of how the NHS functions and how to influence it as part of my clinical practice.

What has been the highlight of the Scheme so far?

I have had lots of fantastic experiences but the publication of the final Francis report is something that particularly stands out. We had been anticipating the report for quite some time and by its release Francis fever had spread across the Fellows and FMLM.  We had formulated a draft press release but on the day of the report we were waiting with baited breath to see what would be said.  Listening to Robert Francis QC and the Prime Minister give their speeches (whilst skim reading the report to help formulate our response and thus press release) was exhilarating and provided me with my first experience of real time media response.

As a group of Fellows we felt that trainees were not always aware of the importance and relevance of the report to them. We worked together to produce a one page summary to demonstrate the relevance of the report for trainees and the importance for us to ‘speak, act and lead’ change through taking ownership of our actions. The document has been widely distributed via the FMLM website and by harnessing the power of social media, with commendations from the likes of Don Berwick, Bruce Keogh and even QC Francis!

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about joining the Clinical Fellow Scheme?

Go for it!!  If you are interested in how healthcare works on a national scale and what you can do to improve it then the scheme is for you. The experiences and knowledge you gain are invaluable.

What is the most difficult challenge you see doctors facing in their role as leaders?

We are all under immense financial pressure at the moment; medical leaders need to make sure that they keep patient and staff care at the heart of their leadership so that cost does not override quality.

How do you see the FMLM helping them achieve this?

Staff care and satisfaction is fundamental to getting the most out of our healthcare system and results for our patients. FMLM is helping to promote this by empowering trainees to gain the skills to be the leaders of tomorrow through advocacy and use of the FMLM leadership-culture-outcome model (an adaptation of the Sears' Employee-Customer-Profit Chain).

Finally, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I adore travelling!  Last stop was Indonesia and I’d love to go back soon …

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