During my FY3 year I did a teaching fellow in Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

I had never worked in the North-East before and had studied/completed foundation years in the North-West. I had always been interested in O&G but had not had enough experience to be sure that I wanted to commit to the training; as this job was 50% clinical with on-call shifts I felt it would give me a true insight into the speciality. As somebody very interested in medical education, this was the perfect job combination as I became the lead O&G teaching fellow for Newcastle University students.

The job was advertised via NHS jobs.

Job Role

Clinical

Working in such a clinically excellent tertiary centre was an incredible opportunity. If you want to get involved in practical procedures, the O&G teams are very willing to accommodate; by the end of the year I could perform supervised C-sections, hysteroscopy & minor gynae procedures. You are also encouraged to attend weekly departmental teaching sessions. As the O&G teaching fellow I was treated as somewhere between an F2 & ST1, although I had half the on-calls that a trainee/F2 had.

Clinical duties included the following:

Ward – reviewing post-natal patients across 2 wards. There is an easily reachable ward reg & consultant for any queries + the opportunity to join a very interesting ante-natal ward round. This is a busy but well supported role.

Obs On-Call – Includes seeing patients in Maternity Assessment Unit, attending emergencies including c-section assistance, clerking inductions & wards (outside of standard hours). A well supported role.

C-Section List – Assisting a consultant in elective C-Sections. By the end of the year I was performing supervised C-Sections from start to finish.

Ante-Natal Clinic – As a tertiary centre, the clinics are busy & many interesting patients attend. The clinics are split into different sub-specialties ie. Mental Health, Diabetes etc where you are expected to see patients by yourself.  The consultants & registrars are very knowledgeable & supportive. This was a fantastic learning experience.

GOPD clinics – You are expected to see patients by yourself, well supported

Uro-Gynae clinics – An interesting speciality clinic, the uro-gynae consultants are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding/Post-Menpausal Bleeding/2 week wait clinics – These clinics are all well supported by a consultant & reg. This was another fantastic learning experience where I gained skilled in difficult vaginal examination, endometrial biopsy, mirena insertion/removal, hysteroscopy & vulval biopsy.

Gynae theatre – As an SHO I was encouraged to perform minor gynae procedures such as hysteroscopy, ERPC & mirena insertion under GA. Other than this the registrars & consultants do the main procedures & I was usually manoeuvring the uterus. This was to be expected at my level. I was not often scheduled for these sessions.

Gynae On-Call – Gynae ward round & seeing emergency gynae attendees including those in early pregnancy. You can gain ultrasound scanning skills in this environment. You are well supported by a reg & consultant.

Teaching

I was encouraged & fully funded to complete either a PGCert or Diploma in Medical Education at Newcastle University. I was also the only O&G teaching fellow for Newcastle University, teaching students across 3rd & 5th year. I was scheduled exactly 2.5 days a week to teach; this time was protected. It is a very autonomous role although I was well supported by 2 lead medical education O&G consultants. Opportunities for projects & publications were available. I was personally involved in helping to redesign & facilitate the 3rd year curriculum. I was also expected to create & send out each student’s personal timetable, book rooms, run O&G emergency simulation sessions, facilitate bedside teaching & organise the O&G practical exams. This was alongside being encouraged to run communication; simulation & general teaching sessions outside of my speciality.  . 

There are many opportunities to be a teaching fellow across almost all specialities in the Newcastle Hospital NHS foundation trusts. The clinical:teaching split & experience is very different depending on speciality.. For example, in Pediatrics there were 5 teaching fellows but they were expected to do less teaching & more clinical work.

Overall, I personally found this role to be much more challenging then my clinical role & a true test to my organisational skills. As the only teaching fellow, it was difficult to juggle the multiple roles & expectations of this job. I felt the department would benefit from more teaching fellows, especially as I was also on the on-call rota.  However, it was a fantastic year which I thoroughly enjoyed. I would very much recommend it to anybody with a combined interest of O&G and Med Ed. I would like to stress that It is not a job for people that are hoping for a ‘chilled F3’.

I have now applied to O&G training because of my excellent experience in the department.

Article Written by Dr. Chloe Barnes 12/12/20