One of my professors was sceptical when I told her I had been accepted onto the Leadership and Management Academic Foundation Programme.
“Why are they telling you you’re leaders when you haven’t even started work yet?”
My instinct is that her scathing put down was unfair, but it got me thinking about what we’re trying to achieve. The purpose of the blog “Medical Leadership in the Foundations” is to illustrate, or document, or investigate, how foundation doctors can be effective leaders within their organisations. We’ll particularly emphasise what we’re doing, the Honorary Fellows in Leadership and Management based here at the University of Leicester.
A bit of background might help. The Foundation Programme refers to the first two years of a doctor’s training after medical school, typically comprising six placements in different fields of hospital and community medicine.
Academic Foundation Programmes (AFPs) were introduced following the report “Medically and dentally qualified academic staff: recommendations for training researchers and educators of the future” in 2005.
The report aimed to create a transparent pathway for doctors working in research, to counteract the who-you-know-not-what-you-know problem in academia, and to bolster the prestige of an academic medical career. It involves spending 4 months during the foundation years carrying out research in a university department. Medical graduates have been so enthusiastic about kickstarting this kind of portfolio career within the first few years of practice that AFP posts in medical education and in leadership and management have also gained popularity.
Our cohort at University of Leicester is the largest community of Leadership and Management AFPs in the UK, but there are also leadership and management academic foundation doctors at other institutions who will spend time dedicated to a leadership project this year. And of course there are foundation doctors all over the country who are natural medical leaders, taking the initiative, influencing the systems they work in, and improving the ways we care for patients.
So what about the professor who teased me for having “leadership” in my job title? Well, I’m inclined to agree with Jude Tweedie, Chair of the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management Trainee Steering Group, who was asked who can be a leader.
“To create change, you need to be able to see a future that doesn’t exist and subsequently use drive and organisation to shape that future… leadership is for everyone who chooses to create a change or a different future and finds a way to make it happen”
So keep your eyes on the blog over the next few days and weeks for examples and analysis of what foundation doctors are doing, whether in formal programmes or in their own time, to envisage a better future for patients and make it a reality.