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West Midlands HEE Clinical Fellows rise to the challenge

2 August 2021

July 2021 has seen the successful completion of the second cohort of West Midlands HEE Clinical Fellows. We caught up with those involved in the programme to find out what they have gained from their year and the challenges they faced.

Professor Sailesh Sankaranarayanan, Associate Dean in the West Midlands, said: “It is heartening and gratifying to see how the fellows have embraced the challenge of working remotely during the entirety of the fellowship programme and how much they have achieved during this period. 

"I am extremely pleased to see how they have evolved as individuals, gaining essential skills in leadership and management, and seizing opportunities and networking across organisations. They have contributed not only at local level but also at regional and national level towards training and education and no doubt will continue to do so in future.” 

Clinical fellowships are designed to help medical trainees develop their professionalism, leadership and management abilities in the context of medical education and training. 

The West Midlands HEE Clinical Fellows programme, which is open to all specialities, offers a great opportunity to trainees to focus on areas such as managing education and training, simulation, patient safety, quality improvement and education research, and are hosted jointly between HEE and a local NHS employer. 

We hear from two of our fellows, Dr Devika Patel and Dr Joshua Whitehurst. 

Dr Devika Patel

“In January 2020 I interviewed for a post as HEE clinical fellow – little did I know this would be the first and last time I would see the HEE colleagues in person! 

“In the first few months I struggled with working from home and trying to develop a feasible project I could complete virtually, in the height of a pandemic. However, with support and guidance from my seniors I was able to develop an educational programme for junior doctors.  

“My project focussed on empowering junior doctors to use quality improvement (QI) as a tool for improving wellbeing in their local departments.

"Although there were several hurdles, due to working from home and the second wave, I have created a sustainable end product, an e-learning course. Along with clinical fellow Joshua Whitehurst, I have also embarked on several joint projects centred around wellbeing, supervision and engaging trainees.  

“This year has been very different to what I expected, however on many levels, exceeded my expectations. The advantages of virtual working meant I could increase my attendance at meetings, events, international conferences, and networking opportunities. I also learnt how to embrace flexible working to prioritise my wellbeing, enjoying a lunchtime run, or early starts in the winter.  

“Over the 12 months I have grown as a doctor, leader, teacher and, most of all, learnt the art of adapting to rapidly changing situations. I have had the chance of being a fly on the wall at senior management meetings, opening my eyes to the ins and outs of HEE!  

“This role has been a turning point in my career, however, could not have been possible without the support from Doreen DavisSailesh SankaranarayananManjit ObhraiAndy Whallett and Wendy Cole. I leave this post in August 2021 and will return to higher psychiatry training as a better trainee, and hopefully a future leader in the NHS.” 

Dr Joshua Whitehurst 

“My year as a HEE Clinical Fellow has been such a rich and enjoyable experience – despite the challenges of working entirely virtually. 

“Working closely with the Professional Support and Wellbeing Team Wellbeing, I’ve led my own project on improving supervision in practice and worked jointly with Devika Patel on several wellbeing projects.

"I’m particularly proud of the work we’ve done to set up the West Midlands Local Trainee Engagement Forum, which I’m sure will bring the trainees voice right to the heart of HEE decision making in the West Midlands as it becomes more established over the coming months. 

“I’ve had learning opportunities in so many different forms, from participating in meetings and workshops, to having tutorials with some of our fantastic associate deans and receiving supervision from the Professional Support and Wellbeing Team. This post has certainly helped me to develop as an educator, and I look forward to putting my new knowledge and skills into use in the future.” 

Our next cohort of incoming West Midlands HEE Clinical Fellows for 2021/22 will see fellows joining us in both August and October, continuing with some of the work started by this group and their own exciting projects.