by Dr Alyson Huntley
Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
Dr Sarah Tonkin-Crine
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford
Two individuals are supported by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research (NIHR SPCR) to attend the Oxford Leadership Programme every year. This year researchers Drs Alyson Huntley from the Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol and Sarah Tonkin-Crine, from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford attended the first week of events at St Hughs’ College, Oxford.
As cohort#12 of the International Primary Care Research Leadership Programme we were lucky to stay at St Hugh’s College, Oxford during a very hot and sunny week in July. After arriving at the college on Sunday afternoon we were given our timetable and a list of our cohort members spanning the UK, Catalonia and the Republic of Ireland. We realised that there were a couple of familiar names to ourselves including some people we had only ever spoken to by email. Sunday evening allowed us to enjoy a college dinner with excellent food whilst trying to learn everyone’s names, institutions and research areas.
We were given allocated time on Monday to present an overview of our research and It was interesting to identify many overlaps in people’s work which was not always apparent from our general conversations the night before. It was clear early on that everyone in the group was happy to contribute to discussions, get involved in a constructive way and the course organisers commented on how quickly we had formed a bond. This set the tone for the week, whether we were sat around the table working or enjoying free time in Oxford.
“Talks throughout the week were led by speakers from the Saïd Business School and the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences in Oxford. Despite being a member of the latter, I found it particularly enjoyable to hear speakers reflect on their experiences of leadership rather than talking about their specific research projects. We heard about instances where speakers had had realised the greater meanings behind their work which had led them to explore a research area in a different way, how people had managed difficult leadership situations with practical tips for working in a team and how people had prioritised the consistent development of their existing skills, such as teaching, to make sure they were always learning.” Sarah Tonkin-Crine
“I particularly gained from the session on coaching led by the Said Business school. After warming up by practising amongst ourselves we had an hour long one to one session with a professional coach allowing us to work through work-related issues in a neutral supportive environment. I was pleased to learn that this support will continue throughout the leadership programme. Another interesting session for me was the media training. Whilst I think it is fair to say that nobody in the group relished the thought of speaking to the camera, the advice we were given was extremely useful and despite our reservations we all did well in our filmed interviews, learning a lot from watching them back, and discussing specific points.” Alyson Huntley
As well as having knowledgeable speakers during the day we also had many inspirational talks before dinner on most evenings. These often consisted of speakers reflecting back on their careers and were a fascinating insight of how people had got to where they were, often without specific planning, but through following a vision that they were passionate about.
In having a week to step back and think about our wider vision, and in being supported by people with such enthusiasm for their subjects, we were left with a sense of all the possibilities open to us in going forwards in our careers. Our group agreed that our experience had given us the opportunity to identify what we had control over in progressing as leaders in primary care and how much we could achieve despite limited resources.
As cohort#12 we hope to use this inspiration to work together and support each other in identifying and following our own visions so we can enjoy all the benefits of working in academic primary care. We have made plans how we will keep in touch by phone, and meeting up at primary health care conferences – so watch this space.
Find out more about the programme.
This blog post was first published as ‘Insights from the Oxford Leadership Programme’ on the NIHR SPCR website.