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A letter from Sussex Place, January 2014

Ian Currie, Vice President, UK Affairs, writes...

This time last year I wrote to you about New Year resolutions. It is at this time of year we reflect on what we have done and achieved in our professional and personal lives, as well as looking forward to the year ahead. I don’t wish to repeat the words of the President by reflecting on all the positive work the College has been doing in 2013, nor go over the direction he wants to steer us in 2014; he summarised that quite eloquently in his Christmas letter, which incidentally gave me a month off writing! What I would say is that the College is pushing forward with many aspects of its strategic plan, a plan that is agreed by your Council. A plan which I believe is realistic and achievable.

I would hope that your personal ambitions for the New Year have not fallen by the wayside like mine. My target of eating less and exercising more has waivered already, and if I am brutally honest it never really got underway.

As we look ahead, I think we have many challenges in our professional lives. The targets and goals we set ourselves need to help drive us forward but also have to be realistic and achievable. It is probably just the right time to dig out your appraisal and take a hard look at the goals you have set yourself in your personal development plan. Do you still have the same levels of enthusiasm as when you originally set those goals? I know my enthusiasm changes as my priorities do, and this is often due to circumstances beyond my control.

One aspect of setting educational goals is the need to get the balance right. Quite often we migrate to learning about our special interest even though there is a large part of our job that relates to another area. The classic example of this is a consultant who predominantly sees him or herself as a gynaecologist but also provides a significant amount of obstetric care to patients (even though that care may be on-call and out-of-hours).

Confining learning to that special interest at the expense of development in obstetrics is not entirely optimal, despite regular participation in mandatory training in our respective obstetric units. Mandatory training provides instruction in areas of care that we are not exposed to that often, particularly in the emergency situation, but it is not the panacea, far from it. As a urogynaecologist, and only providing on-call obstetric care, my own objective is to go on an obstetric course this year and expand my knowledge of intrapartum care. Hopefully by tipping the balance more towards obstetric learning, my confidence will grow as will my own development. How many of you out there feel the need to get the balance right?! Why don’t those gynaecologists out there book on to an obstetric course this year and if you are an obstetrician, why not try and emergency gynaecology course…? Roll on 2014.

Ian Currie
Vice President, UK Affairs