PTC Blog - Welcome to Surg Lt Cdr Luke Baker, the New PTC Chair
23 September, 2020
As I write this blog, I am coming to the end of my first day as Chair of the Psychiatric Trainees’ Committee and I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet. Before I write anything else, I want to thank Dr Ross Runciman for leading us over the past year. Even in these difficult times, Ross has diligently and expertly represented trainees throughout the College and beyond, and no doubt trainees have benefited from this across the UK. I have big shoes to fill over the coming year!
Just by way of brief introduction, I am currently a Royal Navy ST6 General Adult Trainee and have completed all my training at SLaM. As a final year military trainee, I am completing rotations this year back in the military. I am currently based in Plymouth, and am looking forward to hopefully completing a placement in Scotland later in the year. I feel incredibly lucky to have the privilege of working closely with Dr Shevonne Matheiken (Vice-Chair) and Dr Rosemary Gordon (Secretary) over the coming year and want to congratulate them both on their election.
This is my fourth year in the PTC and I would never have dreamed in my first meeting in Liverpool that I would be elected Chair a few years later. I remember travelling to my first meeting from Sheffield the day after my CASC exam, feeling a little tired and dazed, and yet being welcomed so warmly and quickly making friends. Over the past 2 years, I have been elected Secretary then Vice-Chair and have therefore developed professional relationships within the College and an understanding of the College machinery that I’m sure will be useful this year. The PTC and College continue to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of my training and I encourage each of you to consider standing for election to the PTC later in the year (half the divisions and devolved nations will have elections this year, and the other half will hold them next year) or getting involved in other ways!
The past year
As the COVID pandemic started this year, I was blown away by the support and work that trainees across the UK have done within their services to make sure that our patients have continued to receive the best standard of care. From trainees being redeployed to other services, or even other specialities, cancelling special interest sessions or accepting different on-call arrangements, I want to say thank you for everything that you have done. I know it hasn’t been easy and I know many of us will have at times felt out of our comfort zone. I am proud to work with you.
Training also hasn’t been easy. There were changes to the ARCP and recruitment processes, as well as cancellations and big changes to the examinations. CASC is about to start, and for the first time, it is going to be virtual. I wish all of the candidates the best of luck for the coming few weeks! I understand the frustrations that have been shared with me by your local PTC representatives and I’m sorry this hasn’t been plain sailing. One of my priorities this year is to make sure that we continue to engage with the examinations team, ensuring your concerns are heard and that the examination process remains fair. I want to reassure you that the College has engaged with the PTC extensively, and I want to give my thanks to the entire examinations team for digitising the exams and enabling candidates to continue to sit them despite the pandemic. I am keen to hear from you about your experiences with the new exams, so please do get in contact with either myself or your local PTC reps and we will take these back to the College.
Looking forward, we have a lot to get done this year! We had our first annual meeting today, and we are now building our programme for the coming year. This is going to be ambitious and will have trainees at the heart of everything. We plan to publish guidance to support trainee parents and carers around parental leave and support, as well as publish a mentoring guide, IMG guide and staying well guide, and I believe these will be really useful for trainees across the UK.
However, we are not just about guides! We will publish a cost of training document that will put us at the forefront of transparency and explain where your membership and exam fees go within the College. We plan to host a number of trainee webinars in collaboration with the College (as these have had the highest viewing numbers so far), continue hosting national welcome events alongside the College (we had our first CT welcome event last week, and we plan to host a CT and ST welcome event for the February intake), complete the social media platform trials with a view of a national platform for all psychiatry trainees, hold our second trainee conference later in the year, engage with College Officers, HEE and the devolved nations and continue to engage with you at every opportunity.
Indeed, I have put engagement at the centre of everything I have done over the past 2 years and that isn’t going to change. We are not doing our jobs if we don’t engage with you. I also want to engage more with your local reps and will be hosting monthly virtual drop in sessions with them so that I can hear the feedback you are providing to make sure that it continually guides our work and I can represent it throughout the College.
I was elected on a platform of transparency and engagement. I want you to guide our platform of work and influence everything we do within the College. Please do contact your local PTC reps or me directly if you have any feedback or thoughts about training.
I look forward to representing you over the coming year both within and outside the College, and hope to meet many of you at different events throughout the year. If you are just starting your core training, I hope you are enjoying it, and if you are about to sit exams, I wish you the best of the luck!
Stay safe and please do contact me if there is anything either myself, the PTC or College can do to support or help you.
With warmest and best regards,
Chair RCPsych Psychiatric Trainees’ Committee