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I have been working as an Associate Specialist in tertiary care at UHW (the University Hospital of Wales) for over 10 years and have been given the responsibility to run independent theatres and clinics.
I am also an associate teacher with Cardiff University medical school. This entails teaching year one and year three medical students and being a voluntary tutor. I teach ‘human factors’ at least twice a year to year three medical students as a part of their curriculum.
I am an educational supervisor with Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) and have signed the agreement with the GMC. This means I am an ISCE examiner twice a year and am a named educational supervisor to the medical students during their oncology block postings. I am a teaching faculty on the South Wales ENT emergency course and have been doing this for the last seven years.
Being a SAS doctor has helped me become independent, allowing me to do my own theatre lists and clinics and to be a teaching faculty, and I feel I have time to do what I want to do.
Being a SAS doctor has its shortfalls. I feel that sometimes NHS staff visiting the clinic as patients demand to be seen by consultants and this really gets me down. I have received support from my consultant colleagues. Without this, I would not be where I am now. They encouraged me to teach, get a post at the University and have changed in my timetable so that I can have dedicated time for my supported professional activity. They also supported me when I felt bullied (not by them) be it within or outside of the department. As a result of this, I have learnt to be stronger and stand up for myself.
I would feel more included if I was also invited to join in departmental consultant meetings and be involved in the decision-making process.
I don’t have a dedicated place within my own department to keep my mail in or a desk to complete my admin and be able to sit down to do my work. After requesting this, I was told that ‘doctors come and go; juniors and registrars keep on changing and a letter tray cannot be given to everyone.’ Things have moved on a bit since and I now have a red file where my letters are kept.
SAS doctors face challenges in the form of career progression, respect, leadership opportunities, frontline work and inclusion.
You can find out more about the BMA's UK-wide SAS doctor campaign, here and view the welsh charter, here.
Mrs Swati Kumar is an Associate Specialist in Otolarynology at the University Hospital of Wales