Dr Mumtaz Patel talks about her experience of being a regional adviser in the North West of England.
My journey into medicine was not so straightforward, and there is no way I thought as a young girl that I could aspire to do all the things I have done over the years.
I am currently working as a consultant nephrologist at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. I have various senior educational roles which include being a postgraduate associate dean for Health Education England, RCP regional adviser, and clinical lead for quality management for the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board which is a national strategic role.
My journey into medicine was not so straightforward, and there is no way I thought as a young girl that I could aspire to do all the things I have done over the years. I am a first-generation Indo-Asian Muslim female, born and bred in the north west of England, from a working-class background with non-medical parents. Back in the 80s, many of my friends did not feel they would be able to pursue an academic career given our background. My parents were very supportive and always made me believe I can achieve whatever I want to do with hard work, dedication and commitment. I always wanted to do medicine, and academically I achieved all the highest grades but did not have the extra-curricular activities that I see on personal statements now. After some initial knockbacks, I finally got accepted into medicine at Manchester University where I excelled. I really enjoyed renal medicine during my clinical placements, and I decided I wanted to pursue a career in renal medicine quite early in medical school. I did my foundation training (or house officer posts as they were called then) at Manchester Royal Infirmary in 1996. I had a very good mentor, one of my senior renal consultants who was very supportive while I was a medical student and made me believe in myself and pushed me to pursue an academic hospital-based career. I obtained my MRCP in 2000 and went onto to do renal specialist training in Yorkshire in 2001. I then came back to do a PhD in Manchester looking at the genetics of lupus nephritis which I completed in 2006.
During my final year of specialist training, my mum was sadly diagnosed with a glioblastoma. I was pregnant at the time too with my first child and it made me question what I wanted to do. My mum, despite being terminally ill, pushed me to keep going and pursue my dreams. I went for my consultant interview while my mum was in hospital for her debulking surgery and she was so proud to hear when I got my consultant job in 2007. I then balanced looking after my mum, my baby girl and work by going less than full time. Although it was a difficult time, I was well supported by my colleagues and friends which was invaluable.
My advice to anyone pursuing an RCP regional adviser or any educational role is to go for it!
During my consultant post I developed an increasing interest in medical education and went onto do various educational roles from department to divisional educational lead and then renal training programme director roles in 2013 which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was advised to apply for the RCP regional adviser role by my colleagues in 2014, which I was skeptical about given it was based on a voting system. I was not successful the first time but kept on working hard in my educational roles and was successful on second attempt in 2015. I then went onto to apply for a national college role, for which I was successful in 2016. Both the college and deanery roles have been great in supporting trainees at a regional, national and international level. I have been involved in national projects such as producing the reports on the state of physicianly training in the UK, and I am also leading on work around differential attainment, widening participation and fairness in medical education.
My advice to anyone pursuing an RCP regional adviser or any educational role is to go for it! It is one of the best things you will do, and it is very rewarding. Supporting the newer generation of doctors is something I am passionate about and I strive to improve their quality of education and training.
Dr Mumtaz Patel has been appointed as the incoming RCP global vice president, taking over from Professor Ali Jawad at the end of his successful term in August. Find out more about her new role here.