It's not very often you come away from a meeting with a warm fuzzy feeling...even less so when it has anything to do with work...but somehow this was different. Somehow it was not accompanied by the same jaded feeling of having been here before, somehow it wasn't just me trying to lace a talk with passion...for a change, it was my peers. This was an evening set up to try and inspire generation next, try and get the cream of the upcoming trainees to pick diabetes and endocrinology as a specialty....lo and behold, we were starting to grow up as a specialty, starting to understand the value of marketing our specialty, showcasing it to the impressionable minds that this was a profession which harked back to the reason why we/they joined medical school...the intention to help, the intention to care, the desire to be there for the ailing patient. This wasn't about labelling Orthopods as carpenters, taking potshots at others..no...this was about stating what diabetes and endocrinology was all about. This was about the joys of sugar and spice.
The attendance was good, the venue was classy and maybe it was the lure of the free food, but at least the workforce of the future was there. Bright young faces, impressionable minds came, sat and listened as Mike Masding breathed fire and passion about what traits one needs to have in their core if they want to join this specialty, that this wasn't for folks who thought about one part of the body, this wasn't for folks who felt uncomfortable when patients shared their personal turmoil...no...this was for people who believed in holistic medicine, believed in treating the patient as a person, not a commodity. I sat in the audience and listened to him saying the joy one feels when a woman with diabetes has a normal healthy baby, when the patient comes and says thank you and one felt goosebumps...I felt energised, I felt I was amongst kindred spirits.
Derek Sandeman explained bits of Endocrinology as only he can...simple, logical, scientific..and suddenly PCOS looked sexy, no longer was it only about "hairy women", it was about feedback mechanisms, intricacies of hormonal swings and manipulations; Chris Byrne spoke about research, made it sound exciting, made it sound something you wanted to do and then we had our local SpRs, Lina, Eveleigh and Rajesh talk about why they chose this...and I sat back and relaxed...I maybe only 4 years in as a Consultant, but the passion, the burning desire to "do something" had rubbed off...my job here was done.
One looked around and saw colleagues like Mayank Patel, Jimmy Chong, Victor Lawrence who had taken time out of their busy lives to just be there, just show support and one was proud to be in a region where colleagues were more than just that, they had responded to the clarion call...they were friends.One saw the Deanery representative and felt grateful for the official support, one saw representatives from Sanofi in the audience and felt appreciative of a brave new pharmaceutical world, hopefully heralding a more adult relationship between health care professionals and the industry, this wasn't just about their "wonder drug"...this was about trying to help diabetes care.
Mike Cummings stood up as Wessex Programme Director in Diabetes and went through the intricacies of application, questions faced, the training available locally and one turned around to see eager faces busy scribbling down notes...Mike alluded to the Young Diabetologists Forum, made a joke about one's former role.....and one let out a smile in deference to those heady days when one dared to take on anybody and everybody, made some friends, those days when raising the training issues of trainees came before anything...those early days of being the original maverick, and finding fellow rebels like Pratik..ahhh memories now lost in the mist of time for so many.
And then there was food...and over dessert, you could see junior doctors, medical students coming up to speak to the Consultants and SpRs in the room. Folks came to ask about research, took away emails while one chatted to bright young things, offering them options to come to the clinics where it all happens, explaining that ward work in diabetes was not a true reflection of what we do, no sir, come to the adolescent Type 1 clinic, the pituitary clinic, the pump clinic...and be amazed. It was not just about money, it was also about a work life balance, it was about the opportunities for flexible training. For the Orthopods you see driving a Porsche in his Saville Row suit, do bear in mind the hard hours they out in, the evenings they spend in private premises,the legal battles they entail. Bear in mind that on a public taxation system, a Consultant or GP salary put you in the top 4% of the country, gives you the opportunity to have a comfortable life,and in this specialty, you can choose to do exactly as much as you want, while being there for the patient, being part of their lives.
And then the night was over..as the folks drifted into the night, one kept ones fingers crossed that maybe, just maybe some had been inspired, some were taken in by the lure of the intricacies of this fascinating specialty....we shall wait and see. As one has dabbled in national politics, one comes more and more to one realisation...we cannot wait for organisations to do it for us, the responsibility is..ours. If we care about our specialty, if we want best for the patients, then we have to try and see whether we can get the best professionals to our specialty, the cream who will take diabetes care to the next level. We must not bow to negativity, we must not let ourselves be brow beaten to believe it can't be done...we must believe in the "Mourinho effect", no, not the desire to be "The Special One" but the unshakeable self-belief that " it can be done". And ladies and gentlemen?..it can be done.It HAS to be done.