Trailblazer Fellowship: Cohort 2 GP Fellows

The cohort 2 Trailblazer fellows started their projects in October 2021 and will complete them in September 2022. You can find out more about them and their fellowship projects by clicking on the links below.

Dr Jess Li

Jess Li I CCT’ed in September 2021, having spent most of my GP training working in an area of Nottingham city centre that faces significant health inequalities. Despite the huge challenges this posed, I also found the work to be extremely rewarding and I felt I was making a difference. I heard about the Trailblazer fellowship in one of the VTS “life after CCT” teaching sessions and was instantly intrigued! The scheme is about supporting early career GPs to work in deprived areas and carry out a project, of our design, that could benefit this population and try to target a specific unmet healthcare need.

I chose to focus on sexual health and I work in Bilborough. Informal feedback from both colleagues and patients was that offering LARC fittings and sexual counselling/advice would really benefit the local population. Sometimes it’s so simple as not having bus fare to get the 2 buses into town that poses the barrier to patients going for a sexual health appointment. My fellowship time enabled me to set these clinics up with support from senior colleagues. Even though my fellowship has ended the clinics continue to develop. I am still working in the clinics and have developed a portfolio career.

Alongside the project work, there is a local and national programme where you meet with the other Trailblazers and catch up on each other’s projects and troubleshoot. There are specialist speakers who impart insightful knowledge on a range of topics known to adversely affect the deprived population. These sessions were excellent with providing networking and meeting like-minded people who are pursuing similar projects. I have gained an additional mentor as a result!

Spare(!) educational time has been spent on preparing for the DRCOG and the lauded strengths based coaching programme, both of which bursary funding was available for.

I’m so glad that I was a Trailblazer fellow and can’t recommend it highly enough! It came just at the right time for me post CCT as it made that leap into independent practice a lot less daunting! Furthermore, I get to continue to work alongside a population I was already used to and preferred.

I believe this is the start of my journey to making a dent in the barriers to sexual health access that face these patients.

Dr Farah Suffian

Farah I finished my GPVTS training in August 2021 and I became a Trailblazer fellow working at Wellspring Surgery, St Anns. I combined working four clinical sessions at Wellspring Surgery with the two non-clinical sessions for the Trailblazer fellowship.

Working in one of the most deprived areas in Nottinghamshire, I continue to be interested in finding ways to improve health inequalities that are experienced by patients and the local community. Having worked in the area previously as a trainee, one of the key inequalities I had noticed patients experienced when accessing health care was language barriers. This observation was backed up by outcomes of a PCN report and through engagement with the local population at community groups I attended. I worked on a project to provide translated health information/resources for patients as a way of bridging language barriers, improving self-care awareness in managing common minor illnesses, and improving access to healthcare. These resources are available locally to patients via a PCN wide website and have also been uploaded to TeamNet for sharing across the ICS.

As a Trailblazer fellow, you have the opportunity to attend educational sessions that are run locally with other fellows, and nationally with other Trailblazer fellows throughout the country. All the sessions are very well organised, thought provoking and insightful. I found all the national sessions to be so inspiring as I come to realise that there are so many other GPs (and other healthcare professionals) around the country thinking and acting out of the box to improve health inequalities. The same goes for the local Trailblazer sessions whereby we had opportunities to network, and exchange views with other fellows regarding our projects, and life in general, in such a supportive, welcoming environment.

I thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship as not only did we get to meet inspirational healthcare professionals (and learn what they are doing) throughout the country and meet other people who are trying to make the change, we were also given the opportunity to get involved in projects to help our local populations and drive the change locally. I feel hopeful about the future after knowing there are so many of us trying to make changes for better, equal healthcare for all.

Dr Riaz Gulab

Riaz My name is Riaz Gulab. I am a GP currently working at Bilborough Medical Centre and GP plus. I was interested in becoming a Trailblazer fellow as it offers the opportunity for self-development and to focus on health inequalities aiming to benefit local populations.

Throughout the year I chose to focus on mental health. My Trailblazer project involved gathering the experiences of young people with regards to their mental health with an aim of improving experiences. As a Trailblazer I got to meet other likeminded doctors at a local, national and regional level, being able to hear about varied topics such as homelessness and persistent pain to name a few. We also were able to focus on our own development and I’m particularly enjoyed our coaching sessions, enabling me to reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses.

At the end of the fellowship, I presented the findings of my qualitative analysis of young people’s experiences of navigating mental health services to colleagues within Nottingham City and at a system level, with an aim to improve current and future service provision. I have also become a clinical lead within my GP practice.

Dr Oluwaseyi Olumodeji

Olu After I qualified as a GP in North Staffordshire in August 2020, I moved to Nottingham to start my career as a GP.

Currently, I spend 3 days on clinical work at Hucknall Road Medical Centre, Nottingham.

For my Trailblazer project, I evaluated the determinants of the low uptake of Childhood immunisations at my Practice; aiming to close this inequality gap and improve the health outcomes of children under 2 years of age. New processes were implemented as a result of my project and lessons shared across the PCN.

Being a Trailblazer fellow in Nottingham gave me the time and opportunity to meet like-minded individuals in Nottingham and Nationally. At the local and National meetings, you learn and share skills to tackle the different aspects of health inequalities in your areas.

I spent some of my educational time on a Diploma course in Occupational Health. I acknowledge the positive and negative relationships between work and health and I plan to promote a preventive strategy, which will help people stay longer, happier and healthier in work. This will reduce the burden of sickness absences and the poor health outcomes that could result from work.

I am a wife, mother and an International Medical Graduate (IMG) with a background in public health. My past experiences exposed me to work amongst populations with deep health inequalities; with this Fellowship, I was able to make a link and improve the health of the populations I serve.

The Fellowship has been an enlightening experience for me and I do recommend this to early career GPs. On completion of this fellowship, I joined the Phoenix Programme team as an IMG fellow looking at ways to improve the experience of IMG GP colleagues locally.

Dr Jonathan Hogg

Jonathan H I completed my GP training in Nottingham in August 2018. I work at Leen View Surgery in Bulwell and other practices in Nottingham City. I continued my clinical work alongside the Trailblazer sessions which included national and local education sessions and project work aimed at reducing health inequalities in deprived areas.

My project involved reducing language barriers for local non-English speakers and improving access to English language courses that they can attend. The aim was to improve their ability to access and integrate with their local community and services, which in turn can help reduce their mental and physical morbidity. I created information leaflets to promote free language courses available, particularly for Polish patients, and shared this within my practice and across my PCN.

The Trailblazer fellowship allowed me to complete a postgraduate certificate in medical education with a view to becoming an Educational Supervisor for GP Registrars (doctors who are training to specialise in general practice). It has also enabled me to do a Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Working in deprived areas can be challenging for many reasons such as high rates of multiple comorbidities, high mental illness rates, alcohol and substance misuse, complex social problems, homelessness and language barriers etc. However, I find working in these areas can be extremely rewarding and the Trailblazer Fellowship has certainly helped with my ability to manage and care for patients in deprived areas.

Dr Urwah Abdul Rahman

Urwah I completed GP training in Nottingham in 2019 and had been a locum GP since CCT. I worked across Nottingham city and county practices as well as the local out of hours GP service (NEMS), as I was keen to experience the different ways that each practice deliver their service.

I joined the Trailblazer fellowship, as it was a great opportunity to consolidate my interest in health inequalities. Through this fellowship I had had the opportunity to meet and learn from like-minded GPs and other professionals who are currently working in England to positively combat the inequalities that we see rising amongst our population. My time as a Trailblazer was inspiring. I feel we need to remain hopeful in our chosen profession and this fellowship gave me plenty of that.

As part of the fellowship, I worked 4 sessions in High Green Medical Practice in Hyson Green – an inner-city practice with high levels of deprivation and inequalities. This has given me the opportunity to put into practice my learning so far. Also, as part of the fellowship I undertook a project looking into optimising patients’ access to weight management services, focusing on adult female BAME patients with English as a second language. To complement this, I used my study bursary to do the Diploma in Lifestyle Medicine offered by the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine.

I would certainly recommend this fellowship to any GP looking to affect change around them. The fellowship exceeded my expectations, and opened opportunities for funded learning, networking (“find your tribe”), and experience working in practices with health inequalities in a supportive environment.


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