My passion for my special interest day and tips for Core Trainees
17 November, 2023
This blog post by Dr Lauren Fitzmaurice is part of the 2023 Choose Psychiatry campaign.
I’m an ST5 dual trainee in General and Older Adult psychiatry, currently working on an adult inpatient ward.
I’d heard about special interest days during Core Training but they felt quite elusive and a distant prospect. In CT3, I was invited to a presentation day by higher trainees within their cohort about their current projects.
My clinical supervisor at the time organised for me to attend and she also suggested various opportunities prior to me starting Higher Training so I could hit the ground running!
Current special interest: improving e-learning for Foundation doctors
My current project in ST5 is with RCPsych to help develop and improve e-learning in psychiatry for Foundation doctors.
I have a keen interest in medical education and have been involved in several projects previously.
My clinical supervisor agreed it would be a great opportunity for me to further my experience at a national level.
I applied, interviewed and happily, was successful in obtaining the post.
This role is technically a secondment and so for the one day a week that I am contracted, RCPsych pay my lead employer for my time.
Given that we are allocated a day a week for special interest, this seemed to fit perfectly in terms of creating a work schedule and my clinical supervisor was happy to accommodate.
I have had the opportunity so far to meet with different people within the College as well as e-learning for health to discuss how I move forwards with the project as well as network with colleagues in other areas of the country.
I also will be attending a development day for the psychiatry foundation fellows in London to meet and discuss their projects and aspirations.
I am invested in this project as I am passionate about promoting psychiatry as a specialty but also to reduce stigma and promote awareness of mental health for our foundation colleagues who will specialise in other areas.
This special interest encompasses why it is great being a Higher Trainee.
The amount of opportunities available in so many different areas of interest is amazing and I have always had so much encouragement and support from my supervisors.
This is also true of psychiatry as a specialty, I find there is so much scope to diversify and encompass different interests into our daily practice and be involved in a field of life long learning.
Tips for Core Trainees
As I described feeling that special interest days were an elusive concept when I was a Core Trainee, I wanted to offer some insights in how I was able to develop the experience (whilst a core trainee) to enable me to apply for opportunities such as this and tips for future higher trainees interested in similar projects:
Develop your academic skills. Teach, teach, teach. Whether this be at the bedside or becoming involved more formally with university teaching for medical students it is useful experience and the feedback will help you improve.
Develop/contribute to projects. I became involved with local projects to develop psychiatry teaching for foundation doctors, this then grew and became regional and gave me an opportunity to take on more of a leadership role as well as teaching role.
Look at formal development opportunities. Universities offer several qualifications in teaching. I undertook as a core trainee a “Gateway to Medical Education” course with the University of Sheffield which taught some of the fundamental basic theory of medical education. Then as a higher trainee I had the opportunity to complete a PGCert in Medical Education to build upon these skills.
Reach out for opportunities and speak with seniors/colleagues about what is available for you, whatever your area of interest!
Dr Lauren Fitzmaurice, ST5 in General and Older Adult Psychiatry
Make a difference – choose psychiatry
Considering a career in psychiatry? Hear from working psychiatrists why they chose psychiatry and how rewarding the job can be.
Or if you've taken a break from work or training, let us show you the wide range of support on offer as you return.