All-Star Accreditation – Thought Leader in Primary Care Best Practice

Having gone through a pretty rigorous process to receive an All-Star Accreditation from the All Ireland Business Foundation in Croke Park, I have had a few days to reflect on being a ‘Thought Leader’ and what it meant to me and Best Practice.

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When people heard about my accreditation as a thought leader, they were very supportive but many people asked me ‘What does it actually meant to me and my business?

For me, it is a validation of my passion for Primary Care and its value to all of us within our Communities. Primary Care forms the bedrock of the Healthcare systems and Best Practice continues to advocate for its value as well as helping to ensure that the many Healthcare Professionals who are providing care to generations of families are getting the maximum return for their individual Practices.

When I looked for a full definition, I got the following ‘Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success. Over time, they create a dedicated group of friends, fans and followers to help them replicate and scale their ideas into sustainable change not just in one company but in an industry, niche or across an entire ecosystem’.

That sounds like pretty big shoes to fill right!! But I firmly believe that if you are passionate about something as well as having many years expertise in a particular area, then you can use that platform to begin to initiate conversations with a view to bringing about positive changes.

In my journey so far, I have been privileged to work in many different Practices throughout the country as well as speak with many GP’s, Nurses and administrators working in Primary Care. There is a lot of frustration in General Practice in particular at present as many feel that they are at the bottom rung of the ladder in terms of funding and resources and many have concerns around recruitment of new GP’s as it is now being seen as an unattractive path to take in Medicine.

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Recently, I read an award winning article from Mina Dawood, a 3rd Year Medical Student at UL, Founder/President of UL GP Interest Group & Irish National GP Interest Group. In this article, Mina talks about how General Practice was always her passion and the reason that she studied medicine.

“my heart sinks as I am once again asked the question that I have come to dread the most: ” What would you like to specialise in after Medical School?

This is a short extract from her article; (ICGP Forum Cover Story – Jan/Feb 19)

FROM THE MOMENT that long awaited letter of acceptance for medical school arrives, every medical student frequently faces the above age-old question. It is simple, harmless question and an easy conversation-started; one that gives an insight into our interests and life goals. Unfortunately, it is a question that has often filled me with apprehension. That is because for the past few years, my answer of ‘General Practice’ has generally not been well received. It has frequently been met with an “Oh!” in combination with a distinct look of disappointment, along with a few disparaging comments here and there. These reactions have come equally from the General Pubic, Fellow peers and Physicians – including one notable GP which was the most hurtful.

Mina goes on to talk about how this negativity can be damaging to a student and can make them question their choices citing an example of a final year student who had contemplated GP as a career but reconsidered after being faced with intense negativity from other physicians and the Media. However, Mina was resolute in her choice to pursue a career in General Practice which is what inspired her to set up the UL (University of Limerick) GP Interest Group and replicated this across other Universities.

At least 2,000 GPs will be needed in Ireland over the next 5 years as at least one third of GPs in Ireland are over the age of 60 and with many areas in Ireland already finding it impossible to recruit GPs to meet existing demands. This is resulting in Practices closing down and communities being left without a GP service. Many newly qualified GPs are choosing immigration as General Practice is not seen as an attractive proposition in Ireland with the result that many Practices have had to close their panels to new Patients in the interests of Health and Patient safety.

There are many factors that contribute towards negativity towards General Practice at present and one of these is the Media. It can provide a great platform for positivity but unfortunately it is often viewed as the only means available to vent frustration, in the hope that Policy Makers and ‘The Powers that Be’ will take notice.

In my experience, having spoken with a large number of GP’s throughout Ireland, despite the challenges, they love what they do and like Mina, they chose a career in General Practice and many use the word ‘privileged’ when they talk about providing patient care to generations of families.

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Dr Rita Doyle, President of the Irish Medical Council recently spoke with the ICGP about her role. There is a link to the interview here. Dr Doyle is the first woman president and first full time GP to hold the post.

Dr John Gillman, Chairperson of the ICGP quoted the following about Dr Rita. “A Career in General Practice is reflective of the totality of patient care from infancy to end of life in the Community and familial context and brings a unique and privileged insight into the lives of patients. Dr Doyles elevation to President of the Medical Council demonstrates to younger colleagues that one can make a difference when one has pride and love for the profession. An openness to learning by doing and giving beyond the immediate clinical job and a willingness to get involved and not just to comment”.

Like our Medical Student Mina, in the article above, Rita says she was about 4 when she realised that she wanted to be a GP and 6 when she wanted to be a Doctor.

“I love the privilege of General Practice and that patients feel safe with the information that they give us. We are seeing everyone from the simplest to the most serious.”

When I listened to this interview, it further inspired me in my Business and reignited my passion for General Practice and protecting its value as I think that she represents the majority of GPs as well as being an incredible, strong and inspiration woman. Having worked in management in General Practice for over 17 years, I witnessed many changes, cuts under FEMPI and increased demands on the Service. However, the focus on patient care never changed and this been my inspiration in setting up Best Practice.

I chose to reference both Mina and Dr Rita Doyle as I view them both as ‘Thought Leaders’ that I admire. As a non-clinical person, it was a privilege to accept this award as a ‘Thought Leader’ in Primary Care Best Practice

It is my genuine hope that over time, through my expertise and passion for this profession, that I can continue to bring about significant positive changes to General Practice and to support Healthcare professionals as well as encouraging newly qualified GPs to take up roles, particularly in rural locations throughout Ireland where General Practice is part of the fabric of these communities. Perhaps this is something that should be built in as a requirement in the ICGP Training Schemes so that GP Trainees experience their value to rural communities.

I also hope that the two unions that represent GPs; IMO and NAGP can somehow collaborate to get the best outcome for their members and the profession, as unity is always more powerful in bringing about change. There is an opportunity for meaningful and constructive dialogue around Primary Care & General Practice and protecting its future.

As I am now a recognized thought leader in Primary Care, I will endeavour to take part in conversations that challenge the status quo and support those who want to not just comment but instead work together to bring about positive changes that affects us all. We often talk about dreading the future and growing old but there is an opportunity for all of us to contribute to making this less of a dreaded prospect by taking action now.

With the impending crisis in General Practice, there are many calls to reverse FEMPI and it is important to address this, however, there are other conversations that need to happen around addressing GP Recruitment and the increased demands which are being placed on GP’s and their staff. I believe that the current approach needs to be changed and that more meaningful conversation need to happen as a matter of urgency and I would urge our Health Minister to step up to meet these challenges and recognise that everyone is looking for the best outcome for their patients and that that patient care was the primary motivation in studying medicine.

Asumpta Gallagher is the owner and founder of Best Practice. To find out more, click on Contact.