I am currently undertaking the role of a clinical leadership fellow with the Wales Deanery. It is a 12 month role that provides training and hands-on experience in clinical leadership and management. It is supported by a structured, accredited educational programme on leadership, delivered by Academi Wales, leading to a Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Development (Clinical Leadership). The idea seems simple; to help develop the medical and dental leaders of the future, but what does this mean in practice?
My project for this year is to implement and lead the new acute oncology service in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU). As a short background, acute oncology is a service that helps support the management of oncology patients that have been admitted to hospital under a non-oncology specialist team. It focuses on patients who have developed a complication of their cancer, a complication of their treatment of their cancer or who have had a new diagnosis of cancer during their admission through unscheduled care. Prior to this role I was a medical oncology trainee with one year of training left to complete.
A typical day for me in this role is certainly a little different! Today starts with a meeting with the cancer clinical director and the cancer services manager to discuss the current progress of the project. I have been asked at the meeting to present the current progress but also my vision for the future. This used to be a daunting prospect but weirdly you feel like you sit in these meetings with people actually listening and trying to work out how they can support you.
On returning from the meeting I sit and look through my emails and see that the clinical leadership fellows have been invited to meet with Andrew Goodall (Director General of Health and Social Services/Chief Executive, NHS Wales) in the afternoon. Again, typically, this would be nerve wracking but actually you realise the people who you always thought were at the “top” and “too important” to email or speak to are actually really keen to support any project of any size that can impact positively on health within Wales.
The meeting seems to go well, sitting in Welsh Government and hearing the passion today’s leaders have for improving quality in Wales for the future is really inspiring. One of the things I took away from meeting Andrew was the importance of “little wins” to help keep the support for the new project and to help motivate those around me to continue to drive the project forwards toward the long term vision. With this in mind I meet with the two new acute oncology clinical nurse specialist nurses that I work with to discuss one of the recent patients that I felt we had a real impact on improving the patient outcome. On the back of this and feeling enthused we go and review a couple of patients on the ward reminding me of the very reason why leading a project like this is so worthwhile; improving patient care. Who knows what tomorrow will bring!