If I were to tell you 40% of junior doctors are planning on leaving the NHS, I am sure you would understand the enormity of the consequences of this. The reasons for this are multifaceted, from preventing the very real risk of burnout, to feeling undervalued, to work related stresses. But, in my experiences, the problems begins much earlier – as early as medical school.
Medical student: Gaining clinical skills
In order to graduate to become a doctor, medical students need to show competency in at least 23 clinical skills, according to the guidance set out by the General Medical Council (GMC). Medical schools are responsible for delivering education such that newly qualified doctors meet competency (under indirect supervision) for all the assessed clinical and procedural skills.
I remember the excitement of learning how to take blood, taught by our GP supervisor in the 1st year of medical school. I remember the excitement, but more so the nervousness, of being tasked to carry out taking blood for the first time unsupervised (with the junior doctor just next door if needed). These times of joy and achievement were the result of many long hours, searching and seeking out opportunities to gain clinical skills.
Equally as vivid in my memory was the amount of time was wasted travelling from ward to ward, asking for clinical skills to do. I remember feeling like a hinderance instead of a help during those times. I remember the feeling of frustration, becoming demotivated and demoralised, at the inefficient use of my time.
This is not just a problem I faced. Speaking to my colleagues and fellow medical students, all have resonated with the difficulties in sourcing competency of skills. Indeed, a medical student described getting a difficult clinical skill akin to “catching a rare Pokemon”!
Junior doctor: Clinical skills become your bread and butter
Fast-forward five years to the time when I was junior doctor on the hospital wards, a significant amount of our time is spent doing clinical skills. Jobs such as cannulas, blood taking, and arterial blood gasses had become our bread and butter. Any junior doctor will know about creating a task list with a small square next to each job, that they can proudly tick off once complete. On these job sheets often would be an array of clinical skills to do for each patient.
The extra burden of having to do these now mundane skills often adds to the risk of burnout. This is compounded by the difficulty in delegation of said skills due to a lack of support. In my opinion, junior doctor’s time should be spent doing more advanced clinical skills that are relevant for their career in their chosen specialty. One of the common reasons worldwide for employees leaving their job is a perceived lack of professional development. The Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management highlight the tensions amongst training and service provision in their “Junior doctor engagement: views from the frontline” report. The workforce pressures in delivering service means time is limited for their training. This results in further discontent and low morale amongst our junior doctors.
But there is hope! MediTask is aiming to solve the problems faced by both medical students and doctors. We have developed a mobile based application that makes the process of finding, verifying and collecting clinical skills for medical students seamless. Furthermore, we are digitalising the whole assessment process, saving medical schools invaluable time. We allow for medical schools to intervene earlier and provide early support to those students who require it.
We provide a platform that connects junior doctors to other members of the workforce to ensure that the right person is doing the right job at the right time.
We are now launching our product to the NHS market and are ready to collaborate with medical schools and NHS Trusts. We are keen to speak to anyone who may be interested in using MediTask or anyone who would like to know more.
Please do reach out at email@example.com!
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MediTask is part of the fifth cohort of the DigitalHealth.London Launchpad programme.
The DigitalHealth.London Launchpad is a collaborative programme funded by two of London’s Academic Health Science Networks – UCLPartners and the Health Innovation Network – MedCity, CW+ and receives match funding from the European Regional Development Fund.