Dr Amer Jafar is Associate Specialist in Care of the Elderly at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.
We recently spoke with Dr Jafar about “opening doors” for Staff and Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors in Wales, the benefits of healthy competition, and passing the baton on to the next generation of doctors.
Following a PhD in brain ischemia, Dr Jafar has worked as a SAS doctor in medicine at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board for over twenty years. He is one of 1,000 SAS doctors in Wales, who form a significant and vital hospital workforce.
“Being Associate Specialist – or this grade of SAS doctor – enables you to do the day-to-day routine part of healthcare, and at the same time, you have the opportunity to make your own decisions regarding patient care,” Dr Jafar notes.
“You can also engage in medical education, medical politics, do managerial work if you’re interested, and give feedback to the British Medical Association, the General Medical Council, the Wales Deanery, and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.
“So you have freedom as Associate Specialist – freedom in your work.”
With his exposure to a wide range of clinical scenarios, Dr Jafar was keen to transfer his experiences on to a new generation of doctors.
His passion for teaching and education is fulfilled through his role as Clinical Supervisor for the core medical trainees and Foundation Programme doctors in his department, and his supervision of clinical teaching for fourth year medical students.
Dr Jafar stresses the need to further emphasise medical education within the job planning of doctors in Wales.
“It’s important to recognise doctors’ experience in medical education and allow more time, if possible, in the job plan to pursue it further, as there is a need – currently, and for the future.”
Earlier this year, Dr Jafar was honoured for his work in medical education at the Wales Deanery’s BEST Awards in the category of ‘Innovation in Education’.
He said, “In Wales, there are opportunities to advance your interests, and what is good is the recognition of the practice.
“For example, the BEST Awards and also the NHS Wales Awards. I feel we should “open more doors” to doctors regarding competitions and awards.”
Dr Jafar believes there is always an opportunity to compete to enhance and improve your experience as a doctor and, therefore, the quality of patient care.
“Psychologically speaking, by having competitions, you will ask yourself, ‘Well, this colleague is doing the same job as me; they have no better qualifications than mine, and they were able to do that within the same job plan as me – so why not me?’”
In a field that is continually developing, it is clear that Dr Jafar is an advocate for doctors pursuing leadership roles to push the boundaries, and to improve the quality and standards of healthcare services.
He believes, “It is always good to participate in bringing an improved service to your community. It is always great to have the feeling that your legacy is, for example, establishing a thrombectomy service for stroke patients in Wales, which we currently don’t have.
“And this feeling of success is part of feeling happy. But you cannot achieve this success if the door is closed. So, if you open the door and give people the opportunity, they might succeed.”
Reflecting on the recognition he has received throughout his career, from organisations such as the Wales Deanery and the Royal College of Physicians, Dr Jafar reminds us how leadership and competition can lead to shared achievements and improvements for all:
“If I am successful, it’s not just about me – it’s because of the organisation behind me, the wider team. This is how I think about it.”
Dr Amer Jafar has most recently been shortlisted for the Royal College of Physicians’ Excellence in Patient Care Awards in the category of ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Medical Profession’.