November 2022

Reflections from a Health Education England (HEE) Leadership Fellow

I have recently had the absolute pleasure of taking time out of Paediatrics training to become a HEE Leadership Fellow for the year. It has been a transformative experience in so many ways that I will endeavour to condense into a few paragraphs.

During our final workshop we were asked to develop an ‘elevator pitch’ to explain to people what we had done with our year out of training, so I’ll begin with my rendition:
“I’ve been on a leadership development year and had the best year! I’ve learnt a lot about myself, what is important to me and what my importance is to various teams I am involved in. More than anything I have developed a more reflective mindset. I’ve certainly developed my approach to progressing thinking, empowering myself and others, and embracing my role as an agent of change. My project [for the year] was around enhanced paediatric nursing, developing a masters-level teaching course and an abbreviated online version to empower nurses and teams to consider innovative methods for acute service delivery. With a focus on utilising, treasuring and up-skilling our existing workforce we can improve staff retention, job opportunities, teamworking skills, and ultimately safe effective care for children.”

Two striking reflections on my own reflection:
   1. I was fortunate to collect a number of tangible achievements through the year but mentioned none of them, instead focussing on intangible achievements.
   2. Just reading it back makes me want to elaborate and say more, and I can feel enthusiasm bubbling and building…

The projects I was fortunate enough to get involved with were driven in no small part by an inspirational and innovative supervisor. Sometimes the best educational and leadership role models don’t even realise they hold such a position. But their enthusiasm, drive and passion to deliver are what make them such fantastic models. I have learnt a great deal and feel it has set in motion a career path with quality improvement and a focus on MDT-based education at the very core of everything I do. 

I am a more rounded and reflective person because of my time on the Future Leaders Programme (FLP). I cannot recommend it or similar personal growth and development opportunities highly enough! I understand myself better, I understand my role in the wider context of healthcare and have truly been inspired to take on challenging roles and conversations in the future. 

The ‘Effective Meetings’ workshop alone has set me up to be more productive in meetings, conversations, presentations and in general day to day life! Skills and techniques that can be applied to all manner of scenarios: one of those ‘why has no one told me this before?’ moments!

Having completed a Masters in Clinical Education alongside clinical work I have passionately pursued medical education in my early career. Undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities come and go but I felt I was missing something in my educationalist tool belt. I might be proficient at delivering teaching, but curriculum redesign is a far stretch from my current knowledge, position and grade. Understanding education as a means for continuous quality improvement with me as a key agent of change has altered how I approach teaching. More than anything I have no ceiling! I feel inspired to develop myself and my circle of influence to be the best educational leader I/we can be.

Whether it is educational circles, leadership roles, or service provision, we are all agents of change, so why is no one telling me or showing me the way?
So now, I want to be that person! I want to inspire change. I want people to understand change, their role as a change agent and the individual power people possess. I love seeing people achieve and similar to medical education approaches there are often tips to help ease revision stress or make things easier to remember. It’s exactly the same with leadership and management. We absolutely don’t get consultant preparation, and considering that’s the aim for most of us, that’s a pretty big gap in our overall education. I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much this year and I just want everyone everywhere to now have the same exposure. 

So, whether it’s me finding the platform to share what I feel has been empowering or if it’s just inspiring people to dip their toe into leadership courses, literature, or a full-blown fellowship; that’s what I’ll do! It means the year will have lasting benefits not just for me but for colleagues too.

Ben Hughes
ST5 Paediatrics
British Paediatric Neurology Association