Could this be your next turning point?

Dr Amit Arora is a Consultant Physician and Geriatrician at University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent and an Honorary Clinical Lecturer at Keele University. Dr Arora and his team developed the campaign Sit up, Get Dressed, Keep Moving which has been adopted in many NHS hospitals and abroad. He was Chair of the BGS England Council from 2013 until 2015. He tweets @betterageing

Every person can recall a few turning points in their life. One of the turning points in my own professional life was becoming the Chair of the BGS England Council. In this role, I was inspired by the stalwarts which included various Presidents, Secretaries and other leaders of the BGS. In short, “I could see further as I was standing on the shoulders of giants.”  I would like to start by paying a tribute to all those leaders who taught me what I know today.

As Chair from 2013 until 2015, working closely with colleagues and the team at the BGS HQ, I had the opportunity to develop a new work plan, and to consider the roles of regional officers and also alignment within our regions. As a BGS trustee, I also participated in the new strategic direction and re-organization of the BGS. We had a common aim when this was undertaken - we all wanted the BGS to become the ‘go to’ organization for all matters related to older people.  A few years later, I can proudly say that as a specialist society we have been successful in this aim, and our profile has significantly increased in recent years. When I look back, I was new, na├»ve and inexperienced but I was inspired and able to learn from senior leaders, to whom I am eternally grateful.

I had previously done some work on various services, including funding models and their financial impact as part of the ‘Year of Care’ programme for the Department of Health. With this background, I was nominated to be the BGS rep for the National Payment by Results (PbR) panel and helped shape the PbR for Stroke, Hip fractures and many other conditions. This legacy continues today, and has helped raise the profile of these conditions and the geriatricians involved in their care.

Fast forward a few years, and I continued to practice the skills I learnt during that first role. In time I also developed a National Deconditioning Awareness and Prevention Campaign, the Midlands Frailty Academy, a new research programme, and a variety of service developments. It was hard work, with sleepless nights, and some difficult conversations but the ‘will’ prevailed.

If a shy consultant like me can do this, then there is no reason why you could not also do this too. There are lots of opportunities at the BGS one could start with: you could volunteer to judge posters or essay competitions, or applications for our Rising Star awards, or you could get involved with various committees ranging from topics such as clinical quality to the many Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Other options include assisting with BGS conference organization, research and educational roles, and many more; the opportunities to learn and to contribute are immense.

This is a journey in which one is able to benefit the Society whilst at the same time recouping the opportunity for personal development; a win-win for all involved. It can also increase one’s reputation too, and lead to further opportunities.

Someone asked me to consider three helpful questions when I first joined a BGS committee:

  • Would I encourage someone else to join too?
  • Will I do it again?
  • Did it benefit me?

Without hesitation, the answer to all these questions is the same- YES.

I can honestly say that taking a role within the BGS (or for that matter, other professional societies you may belong to) was one of the turning points in my professional career. It could prove to be a turning point in your career too.

Find out more about region officer roles and volunteer opportunities here or email j [dot] gaudreau [at] bgs [dot] org [dot] uk (Julie Gaudreau), BGS Conferences and Region Development Manager. 

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