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Being a SAS doctor has helped me achieve significant progression in my career in giving me the confidence that, as a body, we are very experienced doctors. Colleagues have supported my self-belief and I have been allowed to develop my autonomous practice, which has further increased my experience and responsibilities.
For example, I have been working to develop an assessment service for complex, frail, elderly patients presenting with continence issues and presented my work to-date at the last SAS doctors’ forum, along with presenting a poster in the British Geriatric Society meeting in Cardiff.
I have also been developing leadership skills and have recently been accepted onto the 2019-2020 Health Education and Improvement Wales’ (HEIW) ‘Developing Doctors to Develop’ 3D program.
My role has been extended as medical operational lead for the @Home service, which is a hospital admission avoidance service and outreach based at the Dewi Sant Hospital, covering the Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr areas. With recent transformational change, I have been involved with exciting and positive service development work. I have also accepted a role for tutoring with the Diploma MSc to facilitate learning with students around the module of frailty and incontinence, and recently submitted a sample question for authoring. I feel that being a SAS doctor has enabled me to do this. In addition, I am an appraiser for Cwm Taf University Health board.
I feel supported by the body of SAS doctors but feel there is not enough recognition from all consultant colleagues. There’s a tendency for us to be recognised as senior if clinical cover is needed, however if consultants are available, we can be treated as junior staff. There has been progressive work in changing this culture but there is still a long way to go. In my own experience, I have found there is a reluctance for me to be respected as an individual with my own goals. I am hoping acceptance of the welsh SAS charter will open up more doors for SAS doctors.
The main challenge SAS doctors face is getting recognition as senior doctors and having the support of managers to cascade that respect to the workforce. As a body, we need to get our own colleagues to actively engage and share the excellent work they are doing. Only then can we start to raise the profile of SAS doctors in Wales.
You can find out more about the BMA's UK-wide SAS doctor campaign, here and read the Welsh charter, here.
Dr Maharaj’s health board has completed the SAS charter implementation toolkit. Has yours? If not, encourage them to do so. You can also raise this at your LNC. View the toolkit here.
Dr Maltie Maharaj is an associate specialist working in community geriatrics at Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board, with a special interest in bladder health in the older person.