by Dr Gautham Benoy
So, I’ve just finished medical school, got my results and passed exams. Now what? I’m a doctor supposedly? These are my last few weeks in Imperial now! I start my FY1 in Sheffield so it’s not just bye bye Imperial, It’s bye bye London! But before I leave, I had one last act to finish; my elective. Ever since participating in the ICA (the Integrated Clinical Apprenticeship) at Imperial College, I’ve started to develop a fond interest in medical education and Primary Care. Partly to blame for this are 2 of my most inspiring role models, Dr Ravi Parekh and Dr Andy McKeown who ran the ICA course which had been the best learning experience I’ve had at Imperial College. Since I’d become quite acquainted with the Department of Primary Care through my participation in the ICA and I had really enjoyed my specialty choice placement in medical education, I decided to do 3 weeks of my elective with the department. I’m also starting my foundation job as an Academic Foundation Doctor in medical education and hope to incorporate medical education into my career; I thought a short glimpse into the future might be useful for me.
So, I’m in the middle of packing all my things and moving out of my London accommodation. My contract expires in a week and I’ve also got an AirBnB booked for 2 weeks to complete my elective. Things are quite hectic with packing and tenancy related paperwork e.t.c. But I look forward to starting my elective. I’m getting to work with my favorite department and I’ve still got 2 of my fellow Imperial students and good friends Ann and Seraphina who are still around doing their medical education elective with me.
In our first week, we got to meet Ravi in day 1 who gave us a rundown of what we might expect for the next few weeks. He shows us a big excel spreadsheet with all the activities we would be doing, from teaching, mock-PACES, working on e-modules, the F-Zero Course and other projects going on in the department. We’ve got a lot to do and so little time! So we rush off, sending emails to our supervisors for the projects we’re working on arranging meetings, reminders and decorating my calendar with dates, locations and times. We take the first few days relaxed, just getting to know everyone and doing some of the background reading for our projects and planning, lots and lots of planning and timetabling. While also taking time to register where one can acquire free tea and biscuits.
Worst of all, there was a slight miscalculation, next week was Easter! Meaning I’d have to get some initial work done ASAP and get all the information I need to make sure I know what I’m doing next week. Thankfully, I managed to plan my next few weeks with just enough time to spare.
Most of my work involved designing content for e-learning modules with Dr Ali Dhankot, Dr Sian Powell regarding clinical reasoning and also for the lifestyle and prevention module with Dr Ed Maine. I also got to work with the F-Zero team including Ravi, Andy and Neha to help design in-course assessments. I would also be working with the other students to design a mock PACES and clinical communications stations for the current ICA cohort.
This is where all the work gets crammed in. Lots of tea and coffee was drunk, lots of hours typing and lots of jumping up and down on the exercise ball in the office to get the blood pumping.
Even though it was Easter, I still had the company of Ann, Seraphina and also Dr Bhakti Visani and Dr Neha Ahuja who we
re so helpful during the elective. They had their own work to do but both took on the responsibility of baby-sitting us, providing us with much needed guidance whenever we got stuck.
I managed to do more reading into the literature around the content I was creating for the e-modules and the F-Zero assessments. I also made a start on the cases for the ICA students by interviewing some of the current Year 5 Specialty Choice Placement students on what cases they thought would be helpful for their year group. After going through all my specialties knowledge and thinking hard about the cases, I managed to come up with some cases designed to challenge the 5th years and hopefully improve their preparation for specialties. We also spent a lot of time planning and arranging the mock, considering things like rooms, timings and how it’ll be supervised. This was a really good independent project for us since we were arranging an event ourselves.
I also had the chance to run my own mini-PACES while being assessed by Dr Georgina Neve. When I arrived at the room I was teaching in, it was printed “Dr Gautham Benoy”, now that definitely hit me. I have responsibilities now! I started to worry if the students would actually trust me to be a tutor despite being a student a few weeks ago. I wanted to make sure my students would benefit from the session, so I reflected on teaching I’d already done through the student union and how GP tutors ran mini-PACES sessions. I incorporated all the knowledge and teaching I’ve had on medical education to deliver mini-PACES session which was really immersive for me as a tutor. I felt like I had been given that responsibility as an educator and I really managed to reflect and learn from this experience where I was given full control over the tutorial.
Everyone’s back from Easter! Now I’ve got to show my supervisors all the work I’d done. But I still had a lot to do before my meetings spread throughout the week. I crammed a lot of work in, writing content for the e-modules and finishing the assessment forms for F-Zero while simultaneously having multiple meetings and catching up with everyone. I got a feel for what it really is like working in the department and chasing deadlines. It was hard work, but it was definitely enjoyable and useful to experience.
I’d managed it all in the end and with all my tasks complete I had my final debriefs with everyone. It turned out a lot better than I expected. Having rushed some tasks and always questioning whether what I produced was good enough, all my supervisors found my work really helpful and I felt like I had genuinely contributed to the improvement of the medical school. I was happy with what I had done and the whole experience, I felt fulfilled by the end of the week and also went on a lunch social with the department in my last week which was really good fun.
With my elective over, I’m really going to miss Imperial College. I’d learnt so much over the elective and I’m so glad to have been involved. It had driven me even more to pursue my career in General Practice and medical education. I met some amazing, inspirational people and the department was really friendly. I’d definitely hope to take all I’ve learnt forward in my career, but I’d also love to keep in touch with the department even into the distant future since this is where my career began.