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The doctor now and in the future: from training to the workplace

There is little doubt that the medical profession is currently facing some exceptional challenges. The recent industrial action is an obvious symptom of this, but the present dissatisfaction has roots that run far deeper than simple discontent over pay. Change of an undeniable scale is happening around us – some of it driven by our own professional bodies, much of it brought about by forces outside of the medical profession. If we don’t want to risk being left behind, then it is vitally important that we make space for active and constructive discussion of the big questions that this change has provoked.

Proposed changes to medical education and training have been a particular focal point of recent unease. This is not surprising. Medical education and training shapes doctors’ distinctive professional identity – it is foundational to the formative process by which an individual learns to “think, act, and feel like a physician” (1). The proposal of changes to the medical training pathway challenges this process of identity acquisition, raising difficult questions about doctors’ identity itself. Which parts of medical education or training are essential to the formation of the doctor? Which, if any, aren’t? And – perhaps most significantly – how far can you alter medical training before the identity forged by trainees is incompatible with our ideas of how doctors should think, act, and feel?

Central to these concerns is one question of particular importance: looking forwards, and keeping the changing nature of healthcare and society firmly in sight – does traditional medical training best prepare our doctors for the future of medical practice? This is the question that our upcoming webinar, ‘The doctor now and in the future: from training to the workplace’, will explore.

Dr Jonny Guckian (Dermatology registrar, Advanced Medical Education Fellow, University of Leeds, Founder of Medisense Medical Education, Editorial Trainee British Journal of Dermatology) will be dissecting some of the core questions we are asking about our profession right now to try and distil who we are as doctors – and who we should be aiming to be in his talk “The Doctor Identity Crisis: Navigating the Storm”.

Professor Colin Melville (Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards at the GMC, Honorary Professor of Medical Education at Manchester University, Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Medical Educators, former consultant in intensive care medicine) will be asking how the long-term needs of society and the professional career development and interests of the individual intersect in his talk on “Aligning professional career interest with health and care needs of the public”.

Dr Sarah Hallett (Paediatric registrar, former co-chair of junior doctor’s committee at the BMA) will be drawing on her professional experience to discuss how movements in education policy have and are shaping the role of the doctor, and speculating what this could – and should – look like in 20 years' time in her talk How is the role of the doctor likely to change in the future?

Our key purpose is to establish dialogue, so a considerable portion of the webinar will be dedicated to audience Q&A. Please note that we anticipate many questions about this important issue, and recognise that not all questions may have a chance to be answered in the seminar. The responses on social media, comments and discussion from the floor as well as the content and discussion from our panellists will all contribute towards a formal report by the Changing Face of Medicine that will be publicly available afterwards and submitted to several professional bodies.

1. Cruess SR, Cruess RL, Steinart Y. Supporting the development of a professional identity: General principles. Medical Teacher. 2019;41(6):641-9

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