Podcast | First5 – bridging the gap, with Jodie Weinstein-Blackadder

Jodie Blackadder, RCGP First5 Chair, shares her committee aims for 2017-2019.

Listen to our interview with Jodie

Entering an uncertain working world as a newly qualified GP can be a scary prospect: negotiating contracts, building a portfolio, and potentially buying into a practice as a partner, all while trying to keep ourselves and loved ones mentally and physically healthy. In 2009 Dr Clare Gerada and Dr Clare Taylor recognised the daunting jump faced by GPs going from trainee to independent practitioner. After less than a decade it’s fair to say the First5s are now a movement. However, I think there’s still plenty of room for our purpose to be better understood by trainees, experienced GPs and even First5s themselves.

Before becoming First 5 Chair, I helped establish and grow student GP Societies across the UK. I wanted to build a tribe, which students interested in general practice could hope to belong to, shouting proudly, ‘I’m a future GP’! Today, almost all of the UK’s medical schools have an active GP Society, with a national committee of society chairs to be formed next year. As Defence First5 Rep, I felt the fast changing and uncertain primary care climate made a sense of family more necessary than ever. Increased communication between First5 military GPs was the solution. So we started holding face-to-face CPD events, conferences and socials, with remote support and online CPD being developed too.

At the core of my efforts to date has been a commitment to enabling all medics – students and qualified GPs – to build a support network, engage with their peers, and develop solutions, without any stigma attached to discussing mistakes or concerns. The new challenges associated with my first role post-CCT sometimes left me feeling lost and overwhelmed. It’s already been a pleasure to see the difference even the smallest amount of human contact can make to new GPs who are going through the same experience I had.

At my first committee meeting as First 5 Chair, we decided that for our two-year term the committee’s priorities will be mapped to the RCGP’s five reasons to be a member: learning, community, wellbeing, voice and future.

It’s already been a pleasure to see the difference even the smallest amount of human contact can make to new GPs who are going through the same experience I had.

We want to build on the early successes achieved with Defence First5s and bring the way RCGP members communicate and learn into the 21st Century. From updating the First5s’ offer online, to pursuing app-based learning offline – in multiple forms like podcasts and question banks – it’s clear that we don’t yet have the kind of tools we’ve become used to in other parts of our lives.

In May 2017, I attended a ‘Life After VTS’ day in Birmingham. It included advice for trainees on everything from accountancy to practicing a specialist interest. 98% of the feedback recommend the day to colleagues. Such a fantastic introduction should be available to all trainees and First5s. Therefore, before the end of our term, this committee intends to provide pre-CCT information days and a post-CCT ‘Welcome to the Faculty’ days in all faculties. These welcome events will help new GPs understand what jobs and learning are available to them. This is especially important for those who haven’t trained locally. To ensure the events are sustainable, the committee is lobbying the college for funding and will produce a ‘How to’ pack for those who want to arrange similar events in their area. We also want to offer opportunities to learn from colleagues and experience other practices via intra-UK exchanges. Whether it’s to gather ideas for their own practice, get a taste of a different location or role, or just to have a brief change of scenery, an exchange could be exactly the tonic lots of GPs need.

As GPs, there are many career options and ways of working available to us. However, this also comes with pressures to take on more and more. The committee believes mentoring, available to all RCGP members, will help guide us through our career choices. This will ensure we don’t feel trapped by the profession by giving us the support we need to continue enjoying the wonderful career we’ve chosen. Dr Hareen De Silva, the First 5 Wellbeing Lead, has researched the existing mentoring programmes. He will soon be trialling regional college-supported programmes, which will then be extended to the rest of the UK.

Your First5 committee wants to represent your voice throughout our term. For example, in indemnity discussions and in collaboration with other medical bodies, to ensure we demonstrate a united front which represents all GPs. To do this we need to hear from you. Sharing your hopes, fears and ideas is essential to the successful functioning of our committee and the future of not just the First5s, but general practice as a whole. If you or someone you know might be interested in holding an event, speaking to a student society, pairing for an exchange, or if you just have a good idea, we want to hear from you. Get involved in the First5 movement by emailing me anytime.

Jodie Blackadder

jodie.blackadder@gmail.com

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