This is the story of a GP registrar (Lauren) her trainer (Bill) and their quality improvement project for general practice. Most registrars pick an audit for their quality improvement work, but Lauren chose a leadership project instead.
Not all GPs feel comfortable with the ‘L’ word, but Lauren and I both agreed that when we work in practices or wards that are well led, everyone benefits: the staff that work there and the patients they looked after.
We began exploring the skills you need to be a good leader. We were not thinking Churchill or Shackelton. We didn’t need to be standout or charismatic leaders. Instead, we thought simple attributes like communication skills, empathy, humility, being able to negotiate a shared vision and having a degree of staying power were all helpful.
More than anything, we agreed we preferred to be led by those who are good with people, and so when it’s our turn to lead, we have to be good with people too.
We asked ourselves, how can we turn our conversations about leadership into a concrete project? Lauren had the great idea of creating a profile book: a resource to acknowledge the achievements and accomplishments of colleagues in the practice. It’s essentially a book of headshots and condensed C.V.s. It’s a great resource for GP registrars and other new starters to the practice. It helps them quickly discover who’s who and guides them to the right doctor to approach if they want some more specialist clinical advice. Or some career advice for that matter. It’s a real people project and that is one of its greatest strengths.
An immediate benefit of writing this book was the recognition of the talent we have in our practice. There were so many impressive C.V.s; so many additional qualifications; such a variety of expertise and experience. The profile book helps us not take or colleagues for granted. That’s important. We should celebrate our achievements in general practice!
A longer-term benefit is that new starters in the practice will feel more quickly welcomed into our working community. We hope it will assist in a cultural shift, encouraging registrars to network with the wider community of doctors in the surgery. This is how we hope the profile book will make a difference, a change for the better. And good leadership is all about driving changes for improvement.
Key institutions, like the RCGP, are talking more and more about clinical leadership. But it’s easy for leadership to be left as an abstract idea. That’s why we wanted to come up with a concrete initiative like the profile book. It has been a really positive quality improvement project for us. We have enjoyed working on it and have heard nothing but warm and grateful feedback from our colleagues in the practice. For Lauren, this was a more engaging project than the typical audit. Lauren has led it brilliantly.
We would encourage all GP registrars to think about a leadership project and all GPs to consider how good leadership can further improve their working lives.
General practice needs good leaders, and there is no better way to develop your skills than to get involved with leadership projects!
Lauren Roberts & Bill Laughey