My CC4C experience
With just a few days’ notice, I was informed I would start my working life on a community paediatrics job. When my role was explained I initially felt a little anxious, sceptical and disappointed. No matter how persuasively the objectives, ambition and ethos of Connecting Care for Children (CC4C) were explained, I simply could not understand how this job would offer me the skills, knowledge or experiences I had hoped to gain when choosing paediatrics at St Mary’s Hospital.
With time, I began to understand CC4C and how involvement with such a team early in my career may be valuable. The team had effected a fundamental change to paediatric service provision in a way I had not seen before, and moreover it was working! It was immediately clear they embraced a culture of improvement; ideas for positive change were always welcomed and enthusiastically discussed. With hindsight, I now believe exposure to this culture and forward-thinking philosophy early in my career will be hugely beneficial. With the current pressures on the NHS, active changes will be required to improve its efficacy if it is to survive. CC4C has given me first-hand experience that beneficial change is possible with the collective ambition and perseverance of an enthusiastic team.
Being given the opportunity to improve something I was passionate about was initially daunting. I was new to London, the hospital, and working life, and had real reservations that I had the necessary aptitude to construct and run a quality improvement (QI) project in such a short period of time. Whilst plenty of hard work was required at medical school, only rarely were we asked to develop ‘something from nothing’. So, with a considerable amount of self-doubt, I found an area I felt needed improvement and set to work.
The project aimed at improving communication between the children’s ambulatory unit at Hammersmith Hospital and the GPs of those children that attended. I worked with clinical and non-clinical staff and quickly came to appreciate the work needed behind the scenes to keep the ‘shop floor’ functioning (the only area I had experience of as a student). The process of formulating and leading a QI project has been a highly educational experience. During the project, I have felt deflated and enthused in equal measure; developed skills in communication and project management; and learnt the value of perseverance when trying to effect change - especially as a junior member of the team.
Owing to the nature of my role, I am left with the frustration of not yet having had enough exposure to paediatrics to make it a well informed career choice. However, I have learnt many transferable skills and fundamentally shifted my view of the NHS as a magnificent but static entity to a dynamic service that is absolutely mouldable through innovative ideas for improvement. Furthermore, engagement with CC4C has shifted my view of who is able to effect significant improvements to our NHS, from the upper echelons of senior management to myself and other clinicians. This fresh perspective early in my career, that as a clinician I can be actively involved in improving the structures and processes around me, will be invaluable in the future.