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21 May 2019
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Surgical trainee and mess president

Miss Ashrafun Nessa

My background

Clinical Teaching Fellow, General Surgery, Nottingham University Hospitals

Trust Grade Doctor, Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust since February, 2017

Vice President, City Hospital Doctors Mess Committee, 2017- 2018

Postgraduate Certificate in Surgery, RCSEng- ongoing

Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Education - ongoing (University of Dundee)

Why this post – Mess President

I had been vice president before and experienced how it is possible to contribute to the welfare of colleagues and improve their self-esteem. I wanted to continue this work and implement ideas I have developed.

What the post entailed

  • Coordinating the day-to-day activities of the doctor’s mess.
  • Forming a committee of motivated individuals
  • Presiding over monthly meetings
  • Dedicating responsibilities to post-holders
  • Representing the mess committee at the Junior Doctors Forum (JDF)
  • Looking after the finances of the mess
  • Maintaining a sustainable kitchen supply
  • Special support for the junior doctors working in festive seasons


  • Organising special events
  • Improving the experience of mess users
  • Publicising trust services for junior doctors
  • Learning how to liaise with trust leaders, including the HR manager, and balance stakeholders’ priorities.

How I gained personal reward from the post

Improving the morale among colleagues made me feel empowered to oversee activities to improve welfare. This also enhanced my capabilities and portfolio.

How the post has shaped me as a leader and manager

  • I have a better idea of how to be team player and run a team from within: I organised special Christmas treats for doctors working over holidays
  • I liaised with the library and established a regular drop-in session in the mess, to update users about the library service
  • I arranged pro rata mess fees for less than full time trainees

The impact on patient care

There was a clear value to patient care through the impact it has had on the clinical team. Doctors found the mess a pleasant place to rest and socialise, where they were refreshed, re-energised and able to provide a better-quality service for patients.


There are many leadership activities that are not readily being taken up by trainees. I had to approach individually colleagues to become members to form the committee. Trainees cannot be expected to develop leadership and management skills overnight. I think involvement in leadership and management at trainee level should be mandatory. By supporting and empowering trainee involvement, inclusiveness can be improved and this will translate into better patient care and staff wellbeing.

Leadership and management for trainees is more than just a QI project. Everything in medicine is team-based, so as trainees develop they are expected to lead an ever-increasing team in terms of size and complexity. In these leadership development roles trainees can develop transferable skills to do jobs with greater leadership responsibility.

The key points to take away

  1. Seize the opportunities to develop your leadership and management skills
  2. Leadership and management roles, no matter how big or small, are worth the experience. Smaller, less demanding projects or roles may give confidence on which to build and take on bigger challenges.
  3. Engage with more senior clinicians and seek mentorship.
  4. When morale is low in the NHS and juniors are feeling deprived in comparison to other peers, it is worth remembering there are still things that can be done to improve the experience of Junior doctors in your local hospital, which will contribute to their overall wellbeing.
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