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#TeamGP – why we need to learn together

Ahmed Rashid - 16 Jan, 2020

Learning is all about making some sort of change. As GPs, it can be easy for us to think of our learning simply as a process we go through to tick a box in our appraisals. But maybe we should be thinking more deeply about the types of learning that truly cause us to change for the better.

Some learning leads to really obvious and direct change in our practice, like offering a new type of treatment. But often it’s more subtle than that. For example, learning can represent a change in how we feel towards a certain individual or group, or a change in the way we think about a new (or old) disease.

If you think of all the ways in which you learn, the chances are, you can divide them into experiences which are either individual or communal. Individual learning might include reading journal articles and books, completing online modules, watching videos, or listening to podcasts. Communal learning, on the other hand, might include clinical meetings, conferences, study days, or even interacting with colleagues online, such as on social media, or on a secure discussion forum such as GP Horizon.

In recent decades, though, the raft of individual learning opportunities has meant that we may question whether we need communal learning at all. If you can read, listen to, and watch all the right content in your pyjamas on the sofa, or on your commute to work, or whilst completing your run or bike ride, why should you bother to make the effort to learn with others?

The answer to that, I would suggest, is that communal learning helps us to change in ways that aren’t necessary possible when we learn individually. Being a GP is often a lonely and isolating job, and as the job gets busier and more intense, it can be even more difficult to find time to share anecdotes or advice in coffee breaks or other informal environments within the workplace. This makes it even more important that we use our valuable learning time to recalibrate, benchmark, and make sense of all the latest evidence and developments with our professional colleagues.

The transition to online, though, is difficult to resist. So communal learning doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to be in the same room (although this can be helpful for many of us for all sorts of reasons). Technological advances have meant that we can interact with each other in so many different ways, and Twitter journal clubs and Facebook groups are as popular with GPs as they are with other specialties within medicine, and other professional groups both inside and outside of healthcare.

Those attending NB Medical Education courses regularly tell us how helpful they find the Q&A sections of our courses, both to hear more informal insights from lecturers, as well as to gauge what others in the room are thinking about how to interpret and contextualise new information. We also often hear how valuable the conversations that take place in the breaks are, and we really appreciate the exchanges that we take part in too. As the courses have moved to additional online offerings through webinars, it’s been encouraging (and perhaps unsurprising) that those taking part have continued to value the interactivity that is offered through live questions and comments.

So as you plan your learning for 2020, I would encourage you to think about what kind of change you are hoping for, and how learning with others from within the #TeamGP community might help you to achieve some of those in ways that may not be possible alone. 

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Happy Mums, Happy Tums

Martin Drewry - HPA - 23 Dec, 2019

NB Medical have joined forces with charity Health Poverty Action’s UK Aid Match campaign, where the UK government will match public donations raised towards the charity’s Happy Mums, Happy Tums appeal to support the health and nutrition of mums and young children in rural Sierra Leone. *

Donations made to Health Poverty Action from now until the 31st December 2019 will be doubled by the UK government, and used to train community health workers and equip health clinics to give mums the nutritional information and support they need so their babies have the best start in life.

Martin Drewry, Director of Health Poverty Action, said: “We’re delighted that NB Medical have come on board to support the amazing healthcare workers in Sierra Leone on their mission to improve the health of mothers and babies. With the UK government doubling all public donations, it’s a fantastic chance to support long-term, positive changes to healthcare access and nutritional education.

The Happy Mums, Happy Tums project aims to reach over 6,000 women and children- in rural Sierra Leone’s Bombali and Karene districts by;

  • Working with over one hundred community health workers to identify and refer malnourished children and pregnant women to health services, especially those in households living with a disability.
  • Helping local communities take advantage of the most nutritious locally grown food, for example by assisting in setting up community vegetable gardens.
  • Improving access to healthcare services, for example by providing 40 bicycles to Community Health Workers so they can reach the most remote communities.

Health Poverty Action has worked in the Bombali and Karene districts on childhood nutrition previously, including supporting members of the local community, called ‘Community Health Workers’, who encourage and aid people to see health specialists and attend the closest health clinics.

One family that has benefited from Health Poverty Action’s previous support in Sierra Leone is Fatu’s family, a 22-year-old mother to two year-old daughter Ami, who was diagnosed with malnutrition last year.

Fatu, from the town Kagbere, said: “She got sick, she lost weight and I had to bring her to the health centre.

The health clinic worked with Fatu to suggest nutritional food for Ami that she could afford, and that Ami would eat. By working together, Ami was able to get better.

They told me to wash my hands properly before giving Ami her food, and to give Ami peanuts in the morning and evening."

Without this service, I would have lost my child.”

Fatu brings Ami to the health clinic

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To support the Happy Mums, Happy Tums appeal, please CLICK HERE

For more information visit the website Health Poverty Action

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