23 April 2024

Developing the education strategy/ensuring all voices are heard

Mumtaz Headshot 1.0 (004)

It has been a busy 7 months since I started as senior censor and vice president for education and training in August 2023. I was very much aware of the current climate of poor morale, challenging working environments and the workforce crisis.

One of my first tasks was to begin developing the new RCP Education Strategy. We carried out a wide consultation exercise with key internal and external partners, including our trainees, who have been instrumental in helping us shape our strategy. We made sure to listen to international medical graduates, specialist and associate specialist (SAS) and locally employed (LED) doctors too.

The main aim of our new education strategy is to support our membership through every stage of their career. This will ensure that our education offer is relevant, relatable and sustainable – and is mapped to the needs of the changing workforce and challenging climate. We aim to complete and launch the strategy over the coming months. I hope that this will provide a good framework for our work going forward. We plan to include key performance indicators and ensure that we formally evaluate the impact of the programmes of work. It has been great working with the education team, the censors and the wider college. Everyone has been extremely supportive. 

I have been working closely with our RCP trainee representatives and Trainees Committee to actively listen and help address some of their concerns with regards to their training and training experience. We have had some really productive meetings with the chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty, and NHS England (NHSE) directors Professors Steve Powis and Sheona McLeod. Our RCP trainee representatives, Megan Rutter and Melanie Nana, led the discussions around their wider training issues. It was great to explore solutions to address the training issues and identify which concerns can be addressed by the different stakeholders, such as the Department of Health, NHSE etc and which can be addressed by the college. We will continue to actively work with the trainees and key stakeholders, including Federation, to address the current issues.

RCP trainee reps and senior leadership team with Chris Whitty and Steve Powis,18 October 2023
Meeting of our RCP trainee reps and senior leadership team with Chris Whitty and Steve Powis,18 October 2023.

There have been ongoing concerns around physician associates (PAs), which have been challenging to address. I wholeheartedly acknowledge the concerns of our trainees and our SAS colleagues and LEDs with respect to PAs and their impact on training opportunities and experience. I will continue to work with the trainees, SAS and IMG groups and with my senior leadership team and key stakeholders to systematically address these issues and have a more solution-focused approach.

I have also been working with our RCP Education fellows, which has been a real joy. Rebecca Kuruvilla has been doing some excellent work on addressing misogyny in the workplace and we are delivering a workshop on this for Medicine 2024. She is also presenting at the Medical Women’s Federation conference in Cambridge in May. Alongside Rohan Mehra, I’ve been involved in developing podcasts addressing health inequality and earlier this month we recorded a podcast discussing differential attainment. He is also developing videos and resources for supporting trainees preparing for the MRCP exams and refreshing some of the videos for our educator workshops, which I am sure will be hugely helpful. I remain committed to narrowing the attainment gap and maximising the potential for all.

On a different note, I have also continued wider international education and training work. I remain passionate about the Global Women Leaders Programme, and we have now delivered and completed the pilot programme in Pakistan. The formal evaluation of this has been really positive, with great feedback. The impact of the programme has resulted in change in national policies and system change (see Commentary article, April 2024). We launched the programme in Jordan last year, with a taster event in October. We hope to secure funding to deliver a full programme later in 2024. We have had early talks with India, Iraq and WHO Europe to explore further opportunities for the programme.

I was very humbled when my work in medical education and training was recognised and I was awarded the Outstanding Leader Award in the inaugural Global Women in Healthcare Awards in Edinburgh last month.

I know these are difficult times, but I am hopeful that we can continue to drive positive change with everyone’s support and a collective team effort over time. I will continue to work hard and strive to support our membership at each stage of their careers. I will work collaboratively with stakeholders to drive improvements in education and training, provide wider support for our future generation of doctors and across our membership to enable progression, and meet the changing demands of our profession.

Please feel free to contact me at any time – on any areas you feel we can make a positive difference. I am happy to continue working with you all to achieve and drive improvements in education and training.

Dr Mumtaz Patel

Senior censor and vice president for education and training

Mumtaz Patel