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SAS doctors as leaders

By Dr Khalifa Boukadida FRCP, specialty doctor in orthogeriatric medicine at Southend University Hospital, RCP SAS Deputy Lead and RCP Membership Support and Global Engagement Board SAS representative.

I was appointed as an SAS doctor in 2005, and I decided to move to Southend University Hospital, as there was a lack of opportunities for personal development and career progression in my previous NHS organisation.

I started my current role in 2017, and I am the SAS tutor for Southend University Hospital – a role I took on because I was keen to improve medical education in my hospital. I have always been interested in improving education for all kinds of doctors, whether they are on training programmes or not. I wanted to take on a leadership role, and I’ve got a lot of experience in setting up quality improvement (QI) projects, having previous organised four QI projects that were nationally recognised, and presented at the International Forum on Quality Safety in Healthcare.

Recently, I’ve been appointed as the RCP SAS deputy lead for regions, a role that I am excited about. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in the RCP to engage SAS physicians and support them to fulfil their potential. In my role as SAS tutor, I’ve introduced regular education programmes and courses including Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR) courses and appraiser courses. Working with colleagues, we have managed to guide 15 colleagues to achieve their certificate in educational/clinical supervision, which is recognised by HEE. I also support locally employed (LE) doctors as well, with teaching programmes and courses on various topics: communicating effectively in a clinical environment, medical law and ethics and simulation-based courses helping to promote safe clinical practice.

There is unconscious bias about the role of SAS doctors, and it is often assumed that we are service provision only doctors, and I think that attitude is common across the country. Recognition for good work often goes to the consultant or senior person in an organisation, and you don’t see enough recognition for SAS doctors, which I think is a culture we can change. Some of this cultural shift will require a change to hierarchical leadership styles, and a more inclusive model of leadership, as most SAS doctors are from minority ethnic backgrounds, which necessitates an understanding of cultural sensitivities and a compassionate approach. That being said, the future role of SAS doctors could be totally different from what it has been in the past. They can be educators and examiners, also they can take a leadership role within their NHS organisations.

I think it’s important to promote their inclusiveness, by being less biased we can achieve better engagement and integration of our SAS colleagues. It’s great that the RCP has introduced a path to fellowship for SAS doctors, as this hasn’t happened at other colleges. Further education about the importance of SAS role, along with improved education opportunities and career progression will lead to a more motivated and skilful workforce, which will lead in turn to better patient care.

Read more inspiring SAS doctor stories in the latest issue of Commentary, the membership magazine.