Historically in the NHS, hospital doctors and managers have struggled to find ways to work effectively together due to a lack of understanding of each other’s roles. Often, junior doctors have never even met a manager prior to taking on a consultant post. We wanted to address these issues by bringing doctors and managers together to change perceptions through earlier engagement and joint leadership training.
Inspired by an idea started at Imperial, London by Dr Bob Klaber, we pioneered a Paired Learning scheme at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, as our 2014 NHS Change Day pledge, matching junior doctors with managers to gain an insight into each other’s roles and perspectives, through dialogue and shadowing.
30 doctor- manager pairs enthusiastically signed up to our pilot scheme, meeting at joint workshops where we discussed a range of issues, such as leadership styles, and managing change. At our celebration event six months later, pairs shared their stories of how the scheme has positively impacted them, their patients and our trust culture.
One manager spent a night shadowing doctors on the Paediatric Intensive Care unit, helping him to understand the difficulties caused by flow issues, therefore he was able to better articulate a case for the expansion of long term ventilation capacity at the Trust. Another pair found that due to the transient nature of their training, doctors can sometimes feel undervalued. As a result, the pair now have a shared goal of ensuring that junior doctors are represented at all decision making forums in the Trust. Beyond our initial expectations, the scheme has helped to flatten hierarchies and supported the formation of inclusive cohesive networks within our trust.
We have now handed to another manager-doctor pair who are successfully running our second cohort at Birmingham Children’s, whilst we focus on sharing the scheme locally and nationally.
Here are our key tips for participating in Paired Learning:
- You don't need a formal programme, just find a doctor or manager to get to know, shadow them and perhaps do a service improvement project together.
- A programme led by a junior doctor and manager is most effective as it is led from the bottom up and from both the clinical and management sides.
- Find the key people you need on board. For us this was everyone from the people who run junior doctor induction to the consultants and the senior managers.
- Promote your scheme and share what you have learned on social media.
- Have conversations - the most beneficial part of paired learning is the network and ideas that are generated, and the barriers that are broken down (and sometimes this is done best in the pub!)
In the film, Lydia, Nicki and staff from Birmingham Children's Hospital share why they are committed to their whole team working together from both a managerial and clinical perspective.