TEDx Nantwich – Choosing to be a Jack of All Trades

TEDx Nantwich – Choosing to be a Jack of All Trades

My TEDx talk challenges the popular view that specialists are more important than generalists. I suggest that we should consider an alternate view and want to celebrate the generalist! 

You can watch the talk on the TEDx YouTube channel here:

Choosing to be a Jack of All Trades

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Best Job In The World?

Best Job In The World?

As a GP I make a lot of phone calls. Two recent ones stick in my mind. The first was to someone I had, in fact, already spoken to earlier in the day. They had experienced a case of acute back pain, and while I had confidently dealt with this over the phone, I had sensed that they might have been dissatisfied with the lack of face to face assessment. I decided to call back later that day. They were surprised, and very grateful. They were feeling better, and commented “Thank you for calling back, that is very kind, I really appreciate it” or words to that effect.

 

I clearly remember making the second call. I had the hospital letters on my computer screen in front of me as I dialed. “Hi, it’s Dr Jonathan here from the surgery. I’ve received the correspondence from the hospital and wanted to check in with you. How are you getting on?” This patient had been diagnosed with cancer following my referral a couple of weeks earlier. We talked through what had happened so far, and what plans were in place for further tests and then treatment. The call ended with me once again being thanked, this time not only for me taking the trouble to call, but also for the speedy referral leading to the diagnosis.

 

Thank you. I hear it a lot. In fact, most people thank me at the end of the consultation. When a medical student recently spent a 6 week period sat with me, we frequently had patients taking the opportunity to tell him what they thought of me – they were all positive and grateful. And before you start thinking that I am just trying to ‘big myself up’, I really don’t think I am anything special – I think most if not all GPs would get the same response. The phone calls I describe above are just part of our normal, everyday work, and if you are a GP then you will undoubtedly recognize the scenarios.

 

Being a GP is a wonderful thing. Is it the best job in the world? I think so. It has its problems, and I am not naïve about them, but it is still a job where I believe I can make a positive difference to people’s lives, and that’s what makes it so good.

 

You don’t, however, currently hear GPs talking positively about their chosen career very often. Last week on two separate occasions I heard people essentially saying that while we as GPs are currently wanting to lobby for there to be more GPs, why would anyone choose this as a career option when “all they hear from us is how awful it is?”

 

Good question.

 

How do we square this circle? We genuinely need there to be more GPs, but how do we balance expressing the challenges currently being faced with all the positive elements of the job that are still there, and why many of us became GPs in the first place.

 

I became a GP because of the ability to help people ‘from cradle to grave’ , because of the ability to view people holistically, to come alongside people and their families, to work in a broad and diverse setting where you never know what’s coming through the door next, where despite that you can make a difference and where people say ‘thank you’ and really mean it. There were practical considerations as well – obligation to work Out of Hours was disappearing, meaning no nights, evening or weekend working unless I chose to.

 

All of this remains.

 

I was at a meeting last week where GP Mike Smith talked about how GPs have ‘lost the joy of the work’. Things have changed over time, the demands have risen, the capacity has not, the work has in many areas shifted onto the GPs, while the resource has not. Despite this, I would argue that General Practice remains a wonderful thing. We just need to re-find that joy. We want and need to be recognised for the work that we do. I recently gave my TEDx talk on ‘Choosing to be a Jack of All Trades’. I will post the video once available, but I talk about the great value I think generalists have, despite the popular opinion that specialists are better (watch my talk to see what I think about that!).

 

It’s time to start celebrating General Practice again. We need to remind ourselves of the many people we see day in and day out who say ‘thank you’, who value us as people who have helped them and improved their lives for the better. We need to remember the smiles and quips from patients coming to see us, the “How are you, Doc?” the “You’re looking well, Doc” and the “you’ve lost weight, Doc” (yes – patient will say these things). They say these things because they know you. They see you as a part of their community, as a part of their lives that consultant specialists don’t get to be part of usually. This is precious stuff. This is life affirming and the reason many of us are doing the job. We must not let anything drive this out of us.

 

I think we can have this regardless of our contract or employment status. You can have this whether you are a partner or a salaried GP. It fits nicely with any agenda promoting Accountable Care or Primary Care Home. It is what General Practice is all about, it is our past and it is our future.

 

We need to find the joy of the job. We need to remember that we are of value. Let’s celebrate and promote all that is good about General Practice. Let’s remember that being a GP is the best job in the world.

 

 

Dr Jonathan enjoyed working 8 or 9 sessions per week as a full time GP for many years. He is currently proud to be a 1/2 time GP at Swanlow Practice in Winsford, Cheshire, and works the rest of the week as Chair of NHS Vale Royal Clinical Commissioning Group.

 

Follow Jonathan on Twitter @DrJonGriffiths

How to give a TEDx Talk

How to give a TEDx Talk

Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to deliver a TEDx talk. It should be uploaded onto the TEDx YouTube channel in due course, but in the meantime I thought I would blog about the process that I’ve been through. TED is a very prestigious public speaking brand, and TEDx event are independently organised TED events (https://www.ted.com/about/programs-initiatives/tedx-program). People have asked me how I ended up with the opportunity to give a TEDx talk, and then have been interested in how I prepared for it. 

You could say that I came to be part of TEDx Nantwich by luck. Our TEDx curator, Melanie Howe (https://www.linkedin.com/in/yb12coachmel), was not someone that I knew, but one of my friends suggested to her that I might be interested in giving a talk, and more to the point, that I might have the ability to deliver one. This would be my first take home message for anyone aspiring to give a TEDx talk – put yourself out there. I was only suggested as a potential speaker because I had previously been seen speaking in public, and because of my blogging was thought to be someone who might have something to say.

Needless to say, I was interested and quick to pitch an idea to Melanie. This required a written outline and for me to send a video of me speaking. Second take home – have something to talk about. The premise behind TED and TEDx is to have an ‘idea worth spreading’. You may be a great public speaker, but do you have anything to say? In particular, do you have anything innovative, different, new to say that someone has not said before? Do you have anything to say that will impact upon others, that will make them think differently or prompt a change in them or their thinking? I was able to turn to my blog and the back catalogue of stories and topics I can talk about. I picked what I thought was the best 

I was accepted, and invited to meet with the other speakers, with Melanie, and with our coach. 

Craig Millar (http://resonatespeechwriting.com/) was the TEDx Nantwich coach – available to help us develop our talks, to provide feedback and encouragement. This brings me my next point – accepting feedback. There were numerous opportunities for feedback on my talk during the process. The talk changed significantly over the few months from original pitch to eventual delivery. I could have chosen to stick with my original concept, to ignore all pieces of advice, to be precious about my work. My talk would not have been as good as it eventually was if I’d have taken that approach. I took advice from Craig, from my fellow speakers, from my wife, from work colleagues and from friends who served as guinea pigs in listening to me before the event. I would suggest that if you want to give a TEDx talk, then take on the feedback people offer – and actively seek it out.

Next, engage with the process. At times it seemed overly concerned with getting the talk right much sooner than I would usually. I have spoken in public on a number of occasions, and would typically start thinking about it with only a few days to go. For this I was asked to have a ‘performance ready’ talk several weeks before the event. While I wasn’t actually stage-ready at that point, it did focus the mind, and I did try to learn my talk for then. It became apparent that the sooner I was able to know my talk, the sooner I could start practising the delivery of it, and also obtain the feedback mentioned earlier. I was glad that I had engaged and at least tried to stick to the schedule of getting my talk ready for rehearsals. 

I decided I would write out my talk in full, and then learn it. This has been the one thing people have questioned the most when I have talked about it. For many, the idea of having to learn the talk like a monologue for a play seemed more anxiety-inducing than learning an outline and talking around it. I understand that, but I’m very happy with the approach I took. It meant I was able to write the talk out and really craft it – considering virtually every word to ensure it had the impact I was looking for. While I will probably not take this approach with every talk I give, for this event it was the right thing to do.

Then came the practising. Learning the talk was easier than you might imagine. I recorded myself reading it, them played it while walking the dog, driving, and whenever I could. I took the opportunity to deliver the talk to staff at work, and to others when I could. I recited it to myself on multiple occasions, whilst out running or walking, in the shower, in the living room. And I started to think about my hand and arm gestures while on stage – linking actions with words both to make impact and also to help me remember the talk. It worked. 

Only one thing then remained – to enjoy giving the talk! By the time I stepped out onto the TEDx Nantwich stage, I was ready. There was some adrenaline flowing, but I was not anxious, I was excited and prepared. I was able to deliver my talk with confidence and many people fed that specific point back to me – I was confident from the start. 

To summarise:

  1. Put yourself out there.
  2. Have something to say.
  3. Accept feedback.
  4. Engage with the process.
  5. Learn the talk.
  6. Practise, practise, practise.
  7. Be confident and enjoy!

It was a great experience. I would do it again. I just need to find the next idea that is worth spreading.