BDIA Showcase 2019: Reflection of OCDO Fellowship

In October I presented alongside my fellow fellows on what my fellowship entailed and what I learnt from a year of a non-clinical role...

Why did I decide to be a Clinical Fellow?

When I saw these new roles being advertised initially I wasn't very sure what they would be about. At the time I was working as a community dental officer, having just gone through a recommissioning process where there was a transition between different providers and a change in patient pathways. The experience, in my opinion, was rather messy and I always liken it to going through a divorce, where the patients and the staff of the service where the children between the divorcing trusts. 

The feeling was a blame game. Each trust blaming each other or the commissioners and everyone becoming unhappy. To be fair, looking back, I don't think I really understood what was going on. So, off the back of this I felt like I needed to do something. Either to raise concerns or to actually gain a greater understanding of commissioning and how decisions are made. And luck being on my side, when I went to the evening meet the host event for the fellowship scheme (much like speed dating!), the first host I sat opposite was the commissioners from across Kent, Surrey & Sussex looking for a fellow to work on their recommissioning of the community dental services!

It is funny how sometimes life comes together. So I went for the fellowship, was offered it and also at the same time my StR role in Special Care based in a service being recommissioned by my host organisation! 

I've blogged previously about what my day to day life looked like as an OCDO clinical fellow, and I look back on the year now and realise how much I didn't know and actually, how more confident I feel in life in general from the experiences I had during the year!

What have I learnt?

  1. The Structure of the NHS - what all the organisations of the Department of Health do: Health Education England, NHS England/Improvement, NHS Digital, Public Health England, Care Quality Commission, National Institute of Care and Health Excellence. 
  2. My Voice Matters - We've all by now heard of Imposter Syndrome. Sitting at my first meeting during my fellowship, someone questioned why I was at the meeting and made me feel like a child being told they can't watch a 12 movie! Thankfully, I had an amazing backer in my organisation who helped me work through this but now I realise that actually our voices are valuable and we should speak up! Whether this be because you are the only clinician in the room, or people making decisions are going to impact your development and career journey as a younger dentist, use your voice! Many organisations in dentistry are now recognising the importance of hearing the younger generations voice in making decisions.... we are the future of dentistry! Use this to influence yours and others futures!
  3. Organisation - Switching from a day structured by the appointment times of your patients to one where there are no time structures and endless streams of work, often without deadlines means you need to be disciplined in setting yourself deadlines, not just wandering around the office speaking to people or constantly checking your phone for new Instagram posts! Setting goals for the day, reading documents of meetings beforehand, working out was a Gantt Chart is were all things I learnt during the year and I will be able to take forward in many personal and professional projects in the future!
  4. Judgements - Before my fellowship I had a certain view of decision makers and commissioners from the experience I mentioned above. I am sure many other clinicians will share this view. But what I've learnt spending time in this organisation, is not to make this judgments without understanding the reasons behind why the decisions are made! There is legislation commissioners have to follow and there should be rigorous processes they have to go through in order to make these decisions. What we can do as clinicians is not to disengage with decision makers, but instead feed into how decisions are made and voice our opinions as clinicians on the front line! This can be via official routes as mentioned in this blog post, or simple having an open dialogue with them. 
  5. Networking - This year has connected me with so many dental leaders across the country and I have really appreciated the power of Twitter! I've learnt that networking officially is a skill and that it's perfectly fine to be bold and go up to someone you want to connect with or email them to ask for an introductory phone call. It takes guts initially to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, but the more you get used to the feeling the more confident it makes you overall!

I couldn't recommend the fellowship year more; definitely the most important career move I've made so far! If you are interested in becoming a fellow, check out the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management website for when the applications open in the new year!

Do you have any questions about the fellowship? Let me know in the comments below. 

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