As of April this year, specialty doctors with relevant experience will be able to apply to be specialists – a brand new role. This is an absolute game changer for those of us that have felt that there was nowhere to go once employed as a specialty doctor.
I cannot think of any moment in my career where someone has recommended being a staff, associate specialist and specialty doctor ... In fact most people would actively discourage it. In medical school I thought there were only two options for me: a hospital consultant or a GP. When I was struggling with training I thought that I would have to become a GP; I’m so glad I didn’t as I know I would make a terrible GP!
But why was working as a SAS doctor never seen as a genuine career option for all those years? SAS doctors work extremely hard and may have even undergone more training than their consultant colleagues – we certainly offer plenty of comparable experience.
I am an anaesthetist. I am not a consultant anaesthetist and that is perfectly fine by me. As doctors, we need to change our mindsets. I introduce myself to my patients as an anaesthetist and they completely understand my role.
This new specialist role, introduced as part of a package of two contracts and wider investment by the Welsh Government, changes everything. There are now at least three genuine career options for practising doctors: a GP, a hospital consultant, or a hospital doctor.
Doctors who choose not to go down the consultant training route can now work towards being a specialist. There’s real career progression and something for us to work towards where we can realise our ambition.
My aim is to become a specialist anaesthetist, with a contract that finally recognises the important role we play in the Welsh NHS and our own title that everyone understands. That’s now possible thanks to the hard work of the SAS negotiation team, in tandem with Welsh Government and NHS Wales Employers, and I really hope that employers embrace this new contract and reward those that deserve the recognition.
Now spread the word. When you come across a doctor or medical student looking for career advice, let them know that there is now an alternative genuine career option.
Kevin Draper is a BMA Welsh SASC member