My name is Fiona, and I am from the north of Ireland. I moved to Aberdeen last August to begin Core Surgical Training, but my involvement with the BMA started two years ago.
During my Foundation Training I began to understand the various roles of the BMA, taking particular interest in their work supporting junior doctors in workplace disputes, as I had encountered several in my early working life.
The BMA supported me and my colleagues on these issues and had a positive influence on the matters that were eventually resolved.
During one of my FY2 rotations I met a colleague who was a member of Northern Ireland Junior Doctors Committee and heavily supported the work of the committee. He explained to me the roles of the committee and the different workstreams and negotiations ongoing at local and regional levels to improve the working lives of junior doctors and dentists.
His passion inspired me to get involved with NIJDC and in 2018 I took a seat on the committee. This allowed me further insight to the work that the BMA was undertaking both regionally and within the UK, as well as an understanding of the issues my colleagues in different areas, specialties and grades faced.
More importantly my seat gave me a voice to represent my colleagues and reflect what was happening on wards and in departments across the province.
I was able to assist with projects and workstreams when I had time and when I was busier in my clinical work, I was able to take a step back and focus on that. The staff and other members of the committee were very understanding of other clinical and life commitments and never asked too much of representatives. I found there was a balance that would be warmly welcomed across the rest of medicine!
When I moved to Scotland, one of the first things I did was find out when my Local Negotiating Committee (LNC) was meeting. It was at this meeting elections to the Scottish Junior Doctors Committee (SJDC) took place. I was elected by my peers and have since represented the North of Scotland LNC at a national level.
There have been many benefits to my involvement with SJDC. First and foremost, the development of a national network of likeminded colleagues who all have a similar goal; improving the working lives of doctors and dentists. The discussion of issues and resolutions across the country help equip us with ideas and strategies to take back to our localities and vice versa.
Recurring issues and themes across departments and hospitals allow us as a committee to suggest and influence policy for national change.
Perhaps my favourite part of my experience with BMA Scotland has been developing my understanding of my working rights. I have used my knowledge to support my colleagues and encourage them to identify and speak up when local practices are out of line with agreed employment standards. Sometimes speaking up can be tricky but, ultimately, we have a duty of care to ourselves and our colleagues who perhaps feel they are not in a position to raise concerns. We all have to work together to create a better standard in the workplace.
Other benefits include opportunities for representatives to undertake high-quality training that may not otherwise be available, such as leadership, rota development and banding issues, and diversity. Furthermore, there are many opportunities to develop a range of communication and leadership skills through public events, involvement in subcommittees focusing on issues or special interests, and through mentoring.
There is of course a time commitment that should be considered when applying for such roles, and heavier levels of involvement will require more time. However, this is time that is well spent and, in my opinion, has been repaid several times over with opportunity and personal development.
I would encourage anyone with an interest in improving the workplace for those coming after them to get involved with your LNC and indeed with SJDC.
Dr Fiona Griffin
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