One evening, two inspiring speakers and super-networking for doctors

Have you ever wondered what else you could use your medical degree, other than for patient care at the front line? I have long been fascinated with how some doctors connect their talents, education and skills with passion and leadership, to create truly exciting and diverse careers (while others feel trapped in the daily grind of admin, clinics and ward work counting down the days till the next day off).

I get regularly asked by medics who feel ‘lost in the system’ what they ‘should do’ to feel more interested and motivated. Whilst connecting with your passion (will be covered in my separate blog) is an important ingredient for increasing engagement at work (and generally in life), I believe that doctors should actively seek opportunities to meet inspirational role models.

My desire to meet inspiring leaders of the NHS was the main reason why I went to the Diagnosis Salon earlier this week. Diagnosis UK has been around since 2009. Its co-founders, Dr Emma Stanton  (Twitter: @doctorpreneur) and Dr Claire Lemer passionately believe that the best way to learn about leadership and management in healthcare is by ‘doing’. The quirky slogan “Turning a whinge into a way” is a perfect description for the self-starter attitude that differentiates proactive leaders at the driving wheel of innovation from those who prefer to whine from passenger seats. Diagnosis provides a platform for doctors and medical students to discover broader health care opportunities, beyond what we are made to believe is possible with a medical degree.

My attendance at the Salon turned out to be one of the most enlightening experiences of the year. For me as an ex-doctor with a keen interest in alternative careers, it was a heaven on earth to be able to network with other medics who challenge the status quo and pursue unconventional career paths. Amongst the attendees, there were also medical students and junior doctors eager to expand their horizons while learning how to apply clinical leadership in non-clinical settings. The theme of the evening was “Let’s Talk About Tech”, with inspiring speakers and insightful discussions on the relationship between the NHS and IT.

Parker Moss (Twitter: @parkermoss), the first speaker of the evening, offered a fresh perspective on the technology and information challenges in healthcare from an acute trust’s and a patient’s points of view. Formerly a tech strategist in the telecom infrastructure sector, he turned his focus to health IT when his 4 year old daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in 2012. Whilst staying on-site during her treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Parker expressed initiative to improve the hospital’s IT systems and was hired to lead their digital transformation strategy. A charismatic speaker, Parker is a great example of how passion and leadership can turn adversity into an opportunity to make a long-lasting impact on healthcare.

I think I forgot to breathe when I was listening to Paul Wicks (Twitter: @PaulLikeMe), a TED Fellow and the second speaker of the evening. An award-winning expert in the psychological aspects of neurodegenerative conditions, Paul is responsible for the scientific and medical validity of PatientsLikeMe’s (http://www.patientslikeme.com/) research platform. He is passionate about giving patients opportunities to be heard and be empowered, and is an advocate of personalised medicine in improving health outcomes.

There was a real buzz during the networking over drinks that followed after the talks. Many guests continued their conversations even after the lights at the venue were switched off! Meeting doctors who pursue unconventional career paths within medicine and beyond was the best part of the evening for me. Learning about their professional journeys uncovered many deficiencies in my own knowledge of the world outside of clinical practice. This reminded me of how little we really know about “the bigger picture” as doctors choosing to work solely at the NHS front line.

In my next blog I will write about some medics I spoke to at the Salon and their incredible career paths.

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