Consultant in acute medicine, Royal Bournemouth Hospital
I undertook the MSc in Medical Leadership between September 2011 and September 2014, completing it in 3 consecutive years while working as a full-time specialty registrar in acute medicine. I believe I was the first person who was not a consultant to complete the course.
My MSc student experience was challenging, especially trying to fit things around my busy clinical schedule. The first 2 years of the course are modules that require attendance and involve preparation before and follow-up work after those attendances. You need to be organised to cope with this. I had good support from the clinical teams I worked for to ensure I could attend the modules, and the RCP/Birkbeck were very understanding when I couldn’t attend a module for personal reasons. This flexibility allowed me to attend the following year to complete the missed module.
It was great that the course was multidisciplinary, as interacting with anaesthetists and psychiatrists as well as GPs provided many different insights and opinions. It was fantastic to hear from key people within the profession as well as senior government ministers, and being able to ask direct questions to Frank Dobson, Bruce Keogh, Carol Black and others was very informative in understanding the wider NHS. This was one of the most valuable experiences of the course for me.
My dissertation project on motivation and career choice provided me with the opportunity to interview people in acute medicine I would not otherwise have had access to at this stage of my career. A really strong aspect of the course was the understanding of the theories around selection and motivation. These helped me to evaluate how and why things have happened as well as enabling informed critique and analysis of how things might be done better.
I would thoroughly recommend this course to others, as it focuses on the NHS and applies theory in this context, which is invaluable to all senior clinicians. To give a balanced opinion I would point out that the course is more focused on theory than I initially expected and this may turn some people off. I know the number of similar courses has increased in recent years but I would firmly put the RCP course above all others both for its evidence-based teaching and the access and input it provides from influential and senior members of the profession.
Attaining my MSc in Medical Leadership from RCP/Birkbeck has made a significant impact on my career. It has shaped the way I approach the challenges and problems I encounter as a clinician as well as my interactions with managers and trust executives. I firmly believe it has increased my credibility and standing with senior colleagues within the trust at an early stage within my consultant career.