A few short months ago, I was officially appointed as the Trainee Representative for the Assessment Executive and RCPCH START. It was an odd mixture of emotions I felt when I found out. There was the excitement and elation at the chance to represent the views of my fellow trainees to the college, and a quiet pride that colleagues felt that I was worthy of such a position. Alongside this there was also the humbling weight of responsibility to the trainees I’d be representing, and the thought of living up to the outstanding accomplishments of my predecessor, Dr Nick Schindler. As such, I’ve taken to the role both energetically and trepidatiously, if those two feelings aren’t too contradictory.
Weighing in with an opinion that, hopefully, reflects that of the trainees in the UK
My role entails sitting in on the Training Quality Board meetings and RCPCH START Exec meetings, weighing in with opinions that, hopefully, reflects that of the trainees in the UK. At the same time, I make note of the activities in these areas to feed back to the Trainees' Committee, and thereby all the UK trainees, as well as gather opinions from this charming group of fellow volunteers to bear in mind for my next board meetings.
I’m sure my role will involve more than this soon, but it’s still early days yet and I’m just starting to find my feet. I suspect there are two more immediate challenges that will need sorting out. First, as the College kindly stepped down the number of assessments trainees were expected to complete during the pandemic, this will eventually need to return to normal as the world also begins to return to normal, and that will need to be brought to the attention of trainees. Secondly, as Shape of Training comes into action in the next few years, we will move from a three-level training system, to a two-level training system, and I suspect there will be some work to be done in altering how we, as trainees, will need to meet the assessment requirements.
I hope by having access to my own podcast, I will be able to offer the College a different platform with which to continue to communicate
I happen to run a podcast that I co-founded called Dragon Bytes. Our most popular episode at the time of this article was one on the “COVID-19 Adapted Clinical Exam”. I suppose my thoughts around this podcast showcases why I decided to volunteer. First, I have a passion for medical education. I’ve almost completed my Masters in it, and will soon be starting a PhD, so I felt I had a solid knowledge of the evidence base with which to weigh in on discussions around the assessments we are expected to undergo as trainees. Secondly, the popularity of this podcast episode reflects the hunger for updates amongst the College membership, particularly in this uncertain time, in an easy-to-consume format. I hope by having access to my own podcast, I will be able to offer the College a different platform with which to continue to communicate with trainees and educators around the country.
I realise how much I have benefited from the hard work done by other volunteers
The final reason, and probably the most important to me, is that I realise how much I have benefited from the hard work done by other volunteers, such as those in my deanery who helped with delivering teaching for membership exams, or the work put in by the College in easing the trainee assessment burden during the pandemic. Perhaps the feeling of gratitude from being a beneficiary of so much help is something that comes from being from a working-class background, where my entire route to medicine would have been impossible if it were not for the support of dozens of people. I feel gratefulness for the help I receive, rather than an entitlement to further support I wish I’d had. As such, all I wish now is to pay forward what I can to help my fellow trainees.