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Kate Richards, our new Welsh Clinical Leadership Fellow at HEIW tells us why Wales is for her!

My name is Kate and I started working in Wales this year, following successful recruitment to the Welsh Clinical Leaderships Fellows, based in HEIW. I am delighted to have the opportunity to share my experiences with you and I hope that by the end of this piece, you will understand why this is important to me.

Prior to this year, I completed all my training thus far in England. I graduated from Cambridge in 2013 and the Foundation programme took me to the Oxford Deanery. Working as a Foundation Doctor was enlightening. There were many wonderful patient stories inserted amongst the chaotic on call shifts. There were also some ways of working that just seemed incomprehensible in their design. However, it was a busy time and I was on the bottom rung of a ladder.

As I progressed through my early surgical training, I became more interested in these quirky inefficiencies and in how Departments and Trusts were run. The opportunity to spend consistent time in one Department, vastly increased my understanding and interest in these areas. Throughout my Core Surgical Training and into my Higher Training, I started to look for opportunities to develop my experience in leadership and management. I took up any offer to participate in junior doctor groups and sit on Trust committees. I also became a BMA representative.

In September 2019 I attended BMJ Live and with this interest I had developed in leadership, I decided to attend the Wales seminar on this topic. It was here and later at their stand that I met some Welsh Clinical Leadership Fellows, who were clearly passionate and excited about the opportunities they were experiencing. I applied to the Welsh Fellowship later that year.

The Welsh Clinical Leadership Fellowship is a one year out of programme fellowship for doctors, dentists, pharmacist and optometrists. For this year, you join a Welsh organisation and immerse yourself in a quality improvement project. However, it is also so much more than that. I am based at Health Education and Improvement Wales, where I have been able to attend senior management meetings, sit in on other working groups and meet a wide range of professionals. I have been able to collect feedback about issues that I feel very strongly about and then learn how you can take change forward, to improve the work and lives of trainee doctors. Throughout the last three months, I have been greeted warmly at every meeting, I have been asked for my opinion and received praise and feedback and I have received wonderfully helpful replies to my many questions and emails.

This year I attended BMJ Live for a second time, this time as part of the Welsh team, a delightful demonstration of the power of those conversations last year. We were asked to reflect on our experiences of flexibility during training and it was a privilege to be able to say how much I was enjoying working in Wales. We were asked what our one golden rule would be from our experiences. Mine is to talk to other people as you never know what doors it might open. Even if they cannot help you, they may know someone who can, connecting can be a powerful tool. So, I hope by sharing my experiences I can do something similar and allow others to find connections and opportunities.

To ‘meet’ each of the fellows, keep an eye out on HEIW's website and social media, where will be posting their bios on a weekly basis. You can also follow our #MeettheFellows campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

For further information, or if you’re interested in contacting a fellow, please email or follow the fellows on Twitter @WelshFellows

Applications for the 2020 – 2021 WCLTF are now open until 1 December and can be submitted via