So, it’s been quite a while since my last post – so much for at least once a month…. It’s been a hectic couple of months and I’m now starting to calm down & get things sorted. May was a particularly busy month with a talk at a local primary school about a career in surgery, and attendance at my first Medical Women’s Federation conference.
The primary school visit came about because I had signed up with Inspiring the Future last year, where teachers can find people from all careers and walks of life to participate in careers days. I have to say I really enjoyed doing this. I spoke to every year group from P1 to P5 and even visited the nursery children! It was great to stand there as a female surgeon, as a role model for future generations and hopefully planting a seed to inspire future surgeons.
I have recently been elected as the NI standing council rep for the Medical Women’s Federation. This is a fantastic resource for mentorship, support & networking. The spring conference was held in Edinburgh, entitled ‘Medicine at the Margins: Creative Solutions to Healthcare Challenges’. I found this a completely inspiring day and so unlike any medical meetings I have been to before.Some of the highlights for me were the talks by Dr Christine Goodall OBE, Dr Jacqueline Andrews, Dr Phillippa Whitford and the Dame Hilda Rose Memorial Lecture given by Dr Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland.
First up was Dr Christine Goodall OBE, a senior lecturer and honorary consultant oral surgeon at Glasgow University who founded the charity Medics against Violence in 2008. The education provided in primary and secondary schools, youth clubs & prisons has helped to decrease homicide and serious assault in Scotland. Treating violence as a public health issue works.
Dr Jacqueline Andrews spoke to us about the Leeds Female Leaders’ Network which is creating a vision for cultural change and working towards gender equality in the workplace & in leadership roles within the NHS. She reiterated the importance of role models – “you can’t be what you can’t see”.
In a similar vein, Dr Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland gave a powerfully inspirational talk on “The Importance of Women”. We hear increasingly about the feminisation of the workforce and how this is becoming a major problem. The majority of female trainees and consultant work full time and bring different skills into the workplace which can only serve to enhance things. On the subject of leadership, only 32% consultants and 24% of medical directors are women. She explored the barriers to leadership including personal expectations, organisational cultures and work-life balance. I felt this was a powerful call to step up as female leaders and to support those who fly with us.
I came away completely inspired and energised after spending time with so many amazing & dynamic women who are dedicated to supporting and mentoring other women in medicine. As an added bonus, I also got to meet some Twitter friends! I’m excited to increase the profile & membership of MWF within Northern Ireland over the next 3 years and hope that we can serve as role models for the next generation of female leaders.