A few days in the life of Shivani Tanna - Year 3 Medicine in the Community Course Lead and Senior Teaching Fellow
I am fortunate, to have many varied roles. No day is ever really the same for me so writing about a typical day is a challenge. For three days a week (Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays), I am a locum GP having recently moved to Liverpool and sadly leaving my salaried role in West London. For the three days as a GP I’m mostly ferrying my kids to school, rushing to my practice, seeing 16 patients and possibly a home visit, admin and then rushing back to collect kids before ferrying them again to activities, cooking dinner and homework. I attempt to get the kids to sleep by 8pm but usually fail miserably until about 9.30pm. I try and do a bit of work for at least half an hour every evening during my "peace and quiet adult time" - either a project for Imperial, a medico-legal report, an appraisal or writing children's books which is a hobby of mine. After that it's bed.
My two days a week as a course lead for year 3 MICA start on a Wednesday morning at 4.05am. I quietly potter around trying to get dressed in the dark and tiptoeing around my creaking floor boards. My taxi picks me up at 4.45am and I get on the 5.20am train at Liverpool Lime Street headed for London Euston. I am usually one of about 6 people on this train and have learnt to book my seat facing forward to reduce the level of early morning (non pregnancy) related nausea that seems to ensue travelling at 100 miles an hour in a vehicle. I usually have a 40 minute nap using my child's slim line neck giraffe pillow and wake up slightly disorientated at about 6am. I attempt to check my emails and do an hour of work before arriving into Euston at 7.40am. This time is also useful for reflection, ideas, planning and generally thinking about life and organising my endless "to do" list. I get the tube to Baron's court and am at the department at Charing Cross Hospital by 8.30am.
I then start my day with a debrief with Steve (our year 3 course administrator). We start just as Pendleton would not like - the bad stuff - what's gone wrong? Any non-attendances? Any issues with practices? Other placements? Any complaints? Usually this is quick as I can rely on Steve to sort everything out and we also touch base a few times during the week when I am not there. We then have a chat about what's going well and I have a catch up with the rest of the team in the admin office and the teaching fellow room with all the other course leads and teaching fellows. This is time I value hugely. I get to smile, laugh, debrief about tricky clinical cases from the week, learn about new things going on in the world of General Practice, and discuss ongoing projects and tasks that are outstanding. I hear about all the courses and what is happening. This is brilliant as all of us seem to be on very similar pages so we can align our student teaching. Ravi, a senior teaching fellow has recently come on board with the year 3 course and my daily debrief with him is always fruitful with work being shared and new ideas discussed.
The rest of the day is spent either planning teaching sessions, organising the course, speaking to community GPs and meetings, including my regular meetings with the ‘boss’ Sonia Kumar. These are always hugely exciting as new ideas emerge and I go away and think about strategies for implementation. I also have meetings with the head of year or various other teachers affiliated with MICA. I also attend various other meetings including a staff student liaison group where I can hear about student feedback and medical school news. The student feedback plays an important part in continually improving my course. I leave around 5.30/6pm and have my weekly dinner with my parents in London.
The next day I usually deliver a 3 hour teaching session to 50 third year students. These sessions are varied in content aiming to reflect the sort of material pertinent to General Practice. Currently there is a lot of exciting work going on trying to collaborate and integrate our teaching with the early years scientists. So far, it's going well and we are hoping this is going to be the new direction of travel for many of us. I love my weekly contact with the students, hearing about what is going well, what I can help troubleshoot and generally seeing them getting excited about the things they see in General practice and the community. This is often unexpected as the misconception is we just see coughs and colds! I have always loved the challenge of the undifferentiated complex cases I see on a daily basis and if I can enthuse the students in the same way, that means I have done my job well.
My biggest challenge and priority since taking this role has been to change the way students learn with a focus on making them feel valued with authentic roles during their placements. Empowering the students to drive this forward has been just brilliant to see as the benefit for them and also the GPs has been excellent.
At the end of my 2 days in London, I head back to Liverpool, my new home. I look forward to my amazing welcome from my two lovely daughters and husband who seem glad to have mum home to regain the order and nagging - it's definitely worth the 200 mile commute!