In this blog, Dr Hilary Williams, shares her experience of being a regional adviser in south Wales.
I guess you are reading this as you have an affinity with or link to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP). But is the RCP the organisation that you want it to be? Are we focused on the right policy aims? Do we reflect and support you and your teams in the challenges you see every day in your practice? Do you feel represented by us?
I became actively engaged with the RCP in Wales because I wanted to belong to a professional body that represented me, celebrated our strengths and successes, and actively influenced UK health policy.
I became a regional adviser (RA) in 2015, from the small specialty of medical oncology. I wondered if people would feel that I didn’t understand the real challenges of acute care, but I have found that my specialist knowledge of cancer patients in acute care, and expertise in patient-centered and end-of-life care has been very valuable. Also, the best oncologists remain generalist in my book!
As a new RA you join an established team and there has always been someone to guide and support me in the role. I have really enjoyed widening my horizons. Quickly, I became a key part of the Wales Medicine Update: helping to choose speakers, chair sessions etc. I quickly found myself on a conference panel where I talked about the challenges of working and being a parent. I was definitely nervous, but the support from past vice president (VP) for Wales, Gareth Llewelyn, and current VP, Olwen Williams, was always there. Over the past 5 years I have revamped the poster competition, delivered acute oncology webinars during COVID-19, chaired conference sessions, joined the presidential visits to local hospitals and best of all, met a wide range of colleagues across the UK. Perhaps most dauntingly, I was given the opportunity to represent the RCP in the media and highlight the devastating impact of delayed cancer diagnosis on our patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like many of us, I want to do everything I can to protect patients, and our professional values, as the challenges in the NHS mount. The RCP has given me this platform. I was elected to Council in 2022 and was delighted to be elected to become VP for Wales in 2023. I will be working to maintain professional standards in Wales, focusing on where we can really influence health inequalities and health policy. I will be supporting our trainees, SAS doctors and consultants, and future leaders – whatever their background or route into UK medicine.
So, if you are interested in education, training, policy or the future of the NHS and would like to be part of a strong voice for the profession – do apply to be an RA. Please don’t think you aren’t the right fit, or in the right specialty. The RCP is a college for all physicians, and its strength lies in reflecting the diversity of our profession and our patients.
PS – Don’t worry if you are not very good at remembering RCP acronyms and committee structures – I am still learning!